Mark Luiken is the Alaska Commissioner of the Department of Transportation.  He spoke with us today on a variety of subjects that involve Alaska's present, and hopefully future, infrastructure and economy.

Commissioner Luiken has a considerable resumé.  His experience is extensive, and his leadership roles have been many.  Just a few pieces of his background, that is listed on his State of Alaska website, includes the following: 

"Marc Luiken joined DOT & PF in June 2010 when he was selected as the department’s Deputy Commissioner of Aviation following retirement from the U.S. Air Force after 29 years of service. As the deputy commissioner, he was responsible for management and operations of the state’s 253 rural airports and also served as Executive Director of the Alaska International Airport System comprised of Ted Stevens Anchorage International and Fairbanks International Airports.  Mr. Luiken previously served as Vice Commander of 11 Air Force at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, overseeing the mission execution for two flying wings, 15 long-range radars and two additional facilities. Eleven AF is also charged with ensuring North American air sovereignty through coordination with the Alaska North American Air Defense Region.

Mr. Luiken has led several organizations in the Air Force focused on supporting flying operations and base infrastructure. As the 48 Operations Support Squadron Commander, Mr. Luiken led the most diverse organization in his flying wing, which included airfield operations and Air Traffic Control, both tower and RAPCON. He oversaw the installation and operational fielding of the first Digital Air Surveillance Radar – Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (DASR-STARS) in the Air Force at Laughlin AFB, Texas. As the 325 Mission Support Group Commander, Mr. Luiken was responsible for the 29,000 acre Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, FL with more than $4.1 billion in assets. He commanded security, fire, construction, facilities, services, contracting, personnel, communications, and logistics organizations. He managed a $42M annual operating budget and a $51 million annual construction budget, including a major runway renovation project.

Mr. Luiken’s awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit (2), Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2), Meritorious Service Medal (6), Air Medal (2), Air Force Commendation Medal (2), Aerial Achievement Medal (2), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and over 15 campaign and service medals. He is a member of the Air Force Association and Rotary International."

Commissioner Luiken discussed a number of specific infrastructure projects that the state is working on, and where the funding today and tomorrow will likely come from.  Federal money, state money, and potentially private investors were discussed as potential sources for roads, bridges, airports and much more.  In particular, Alaska may be receiving fewer Federal dollars to support our state, a reduction potentially of about one-third of current funds.  Commissioner Luiken also discussed the potential of private, foreign investment in our state as a possibility that our state government is looking into as another possibility.