The Washington Post reports today that a land swap will be signed this month to allow a one-lane gravel road to be built between King Cove and the all-weather airport in Cold Bay, Alaska.
But no one in an official capacity in Washington is saying anything. The Department of Interior has kept mum, and the Alaska delegation in D.C. hasn’t issued comment.
That is highly unusual. For good news on improvements for Alaska they have worked hard to achieve for a decade, one would expect a press release, if not a champagne bottle being popped.
Even Gov. Bill Walker, who often gets ahead of the delegation in announcing good news, has remained tight-lipped.
At this point The Post based its story solely on an interview it had with King Cove City Administrator Gary Hennigh, who said the land exchange was agreed to but not formally signed.
And there was probably a leak from a lobbyist somewhere along the way to the Post.
Now that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been opened for oil exploration in the 1002 area, the road from King Cove to Cold Bay would be another big deliverable for the team of Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young. The three, who are aligned on most issues for Alaska, have made the road one of their top priorities.
The official silence leads Must Read Alaska to believe something positive is happening on the King Cove Road and MRAK has received information from Washington sources that the president has taken an interest in getting the King Cove Road built. The land swap agreement could be just weeks away.
The history of the battle for the King Cove road goes back a decade. After several people died in airplane crashes in King Cove, Sen. Murkowski crafted legislation that would add 56,000 acres of state and tribal lands to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in exchange for allowing King Cove to build a single-lane, gravel road to the airport.
Murkowski’s legislation was signed into law in 2009, but Interior Secretary Sally Jewell refused to act on the land exchange.