SEATTLE and ANCHORAGE, Alaska (10/12/10)--Transportation Northwest CU (TNCU), based in Seattle, has merged with Anchorage, Alaska-based Alaska USA FCU, the credit unions announced. The merger was effective Friday. In a letter sent to members Wednesday and posted on its website, Transportation Northwest Board Chair Mia Waters noted that the "depressed real estate market and higher unemployment levels here in Washington have hit TNCU particularly hard." Hoping to gain a better balance, Waters said, the$30 million asset credit union had pursued a merger with another credit union. However, that merger was called off earlier this summer because it was not consistent with the other credit union' long-range strategic plan, Waters said. TNCU redirected its efforts to $4.1 billion asset Alaska USA and the merger was approved by both boards in August. Washington State's Department of Financial Institutions approved the merger and waived the membership vote to speed up the merger for a faster reinstatement of dividends, the letter said. NCUA also approved the merger, effective Friday. Then, dividends on share accounts at TNCU were reinstated as Alaska USA assumed the credit union. Alaska USA operates 17 branches in the Pacific Northwest plus four mortgage lending offices and three insurance agency offices. "Over the next few months it will be business as usual at TNCU" while Alaska USA transitions TNCU accounts to its data systems, Waters said.