Anchorage moves forward on downtown road plan

first_imgA view of the troubled section of road transitioning from the Seward Highway through the Fairview neighborhood of Anchorage. Image via Google maps.Officials in Anchorage have taken the first step in what could be a major transformation to a vital piece of the state’s transportation system.The Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions committee, or AMATS, approved a plan Thursday to allocate funding for a comprehensive study of infrastructure affecting the downtown core.Listen nowDowntown Anchorage has several different road and traffic projects in various state’s of completion, and everyone from city leaders to community councils says the design plans ought to be integrated. One way of doing that comprehensively, according to assembly member Patrick Flynn, who sits on the AMATS committee and represents the downtown district, is figuring out what’s not presently working with traffic patterns.“There’s a lot of symptoms around,” Flynn said, referring to existing infrastructure problems. “Now it’s time to figure out what the appropriate course of action is, and what the underlying causes might be.”Though small, the step has big potential.As Anchorage looks to its 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, the recommendations on how to better connect the Seward and Richardson highways could determine the path of one of Anchorage’s most vital traffic corridors.The recommendation from AMATS will also eventually take multiple projects out of planning limbo, giving property owners and residents in several downtown neighborhoods a better sense of what’s in store for their communities. This is especially true for parts of Fairview, which is bisected by the stretch of Gambell Street connecting the two major traffic arteries.A number of community councils have asked for the city and state to finalize plans for the roadways downtown.“Uncertainty over the design and timeline for these projects has impacted redevelopment and new development for several Anchorage communities,” reads the resolution that AMATS passed.Mayor Ethan Berkowitz supports the study, saying it’ll help local and state officials understand where there are traffic “pinches,” and eventually alleviate the sting.“This is in part a prescription for the Fairview area, because Fairview is bearing the brunt of the transportation pinch right now,” Berkowitz said after the meeting.  “If we can provide a measure of certainty then we might encourage investors to participate there and it enhances the quality of life for people who live there.”The resolution asks the state and AMATS committee to examine the environmental effects of linking the Seward and Glenn highways without the Knik Arm Crossing option, another sign the administration is developing long-term municipal plans that do not involve the controversial bridge.The document also notes that AMATS can access money for preliminary planning studies through the federal Transportation Improvement Program.Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified the Richardson Highway instead of the Glenn.last_img

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