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On the subject of roads

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The UMED district continues to experience rapid growth in large part due to ongoing capital projects on the UAA and Providence campuses. The Dowl HKM Study Report (see link to their report below) provides excellent background re: this growth and the resulting traffic impacts.

Currently, two roads projects are being planned on or adjacent to the APU campus 1) University Lake Dr. extension and 2) the Northern Access road. Herein I will attempt to provide clarity as to their status.

  1. 1) University Lake Drive extension
    • The Municipality of Anchorage (M OA) fire marshal provided a major impetus for this project by identifying a need for APU to provide a secondary road outlet to its main campus core. APU is currently addressing Phase 1 of this road extension.
    •  APU secured a $6 million federal grant to extend University Lake Drive, for Phase I of this road, to reach the APU soccer field (see map below).
    • The MOA approved APU’s Master Plan in 2012 which includes the University Lake Dr. road corridor. The road will also provide access to potential future endowed property development along APU’s east campus border.
    • The road design work is underway, public hearings are being held with construction scheduled for summer 2014.
  2. APU goals for the University Lake Dr extension:
    •  Provide west-end connection to the new Elmore road roundabout (being constructed as part of the UAA Sports Arena project)
    • Construct a low volume, country-lane road (2 lanes with no on-street parking)
    • Designed to improve circulation on the APU campus with no through access
    • Protection of the existing APU nordic ski trails with minor adjustments
    • Delineation of the adjacent MOA dog park boundary to provide more separation from the APU campus
  1. 2) Northern Access Road (also known as the “Bragaw extension”)

With the addition of the UAA Sports Arena the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) is actively moving the Northern Access road project forward. Dowl HKM’s September 2011 Reconnaissance Study narrowed the proposed road alternative routes down from twelve to four (Page 80). Page 50 of this report shows the location of the four recommended routes. Reconnaissance Report

The MOA has crafted a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) to be signed by the major UMED district agencies to advance the project forward to the next step i.e., to refine alternatives, identify a preferred alternative and estimate construction costs.

The MOU indicated that if additional funding is provided through subsequent legislative appropriation, these efforts will also include final design, right-of-way acquisition, permitting and construction.

If the road is built, the APU goal for the Northern access road is to eliminate option I (University Lake Drive) in favor of alternatives J or K (on the UAA campus) or G (parallels the UAA/APU campus boundaries i.e., a true Elmore-Bragaw extension

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Comments

  1. Carolyn Ramsey says:

    I believe in looking at the big picture and the future to the best of our ability. When considering the Elmore-Bragaw extension all of the surrounding community councils have emphatically said “NO”. To cut the campuses in half would be in my opinion a disgrace. We are trying to promote a healthy, safe learning environment, to increase that kind of traffic along with the pollution it brings does not promote a healthy or safe learning environment. The pictures may look pretty and have over passes etc but that is the maximum that must be done those images do not show the minimum… Which is what normally happens due to insufficient funds because of “Cost Overruns”.

    Why not just expand UAA Drive (Option B) and force students to use the overpass? It seems that this would be the least invasive of all solutions. By forcing students to use the overpass alone would make a nice dent in relieving traffic congestion.

    By extending the Elmore corridor through to Bragaw it opens another huge can of worms for the future. To be considered; If a person lived on the hillside and wanted to go out to the Valley why go all the way down town via the Seward Hwy then out 5th? Wouldn’t it be easier to just go down Elmore, hit Bragaw to the Glenn Hwy? Or people on the East Side wanting to head South. Why go all the way downtown when the corridor is right there? Through the middle of the main hub of higher education in the entire state of Alaska.

    Bragaw is not designed to handle a large influx of traffic. To widen Bragaw would affect a multitude of people in single and multi-family residences, schools and businesses. This would in effect be a huge future cost to the Municipality of Anchorage.

    I understand progress for the future must happen but in my opinion all of the options listed above (I,J,or K) are a bad idea and the surrounding community councils share that same opinion. Let’s use what we already have and focus more attention to Option B.

    Kind Regards
    Carolyn Ramsey

    • Jack Curtiss says:

      Carolyn Ramsey makes several excellent points. UAA Drive is certainly inadequate at two lanes and constricted by the pedestrian crossing. Why isn’t a simple widening and removal of that crossing under consideration? There’s plenty of room to widen it and, if need be, to widen Providence Dr. as well. There is simply no need for new roads. None.

    • Don Bantz says:

      Carolyn

      I understand and am sympathetic to the issues you raise. Please know that APU is not advocating for the Northern Access Road. I believe the construction of the new UAA sports arena provided the impetus for this road to be built.

      Don Bantz

      • Diana Evans says:

        According to a July 15, 2011 KSKA interview with the UAA athletics director, their traffic studies showed that the Bragaw extension is not needed to serve the new UAA sports arena. That interview is available on-line in the link below. A discussion of the “Bragaw Extension” begins at 33:30, and a few minutes in, Dr. Steve Cobb says their traffic studies show that the “Bragaw Extension” is not needed to serve the new UAA sports arena.

        http://www.alaskapublic.org/2011/07/15/uaa%E2%80%99s-new-sports-arena/

        FWIW, the “play” button in the above link is hard to find. It’s right above the Facebook, Twitter, etc. logos, which are right above the Comment section.

  2. Jack Curtiss says:

    As an APU neighbor I am deeply skeptical of the need for the University Drive extension. It will ruin a lovely park area used by students and area residents alike and will likely lead to even further development of that area. Please leave well enough alone. If an emergency access road is required by the municipality then build an emergency only road. A simple gravel resurfacing of the existing wide trail would do along with a gravel extension to loop up to the existing campus road. Thank you.

    • Don Bantz says:

      Jack

      Much of that that “lovely park area” is APU private land used by the public as an off leash dog park which we are NOT. APU welcomes the public who use our private trails for the purpose we have designated i.e., as hiking and ski trails.

      The proposed University Lake road is a two lane country road that will allow us to access a portion of our land for future income which we rely on to support Alaska student scholarships. As a private university, APU cannot receive state funds and must support ourselves through earned income.

      The road will also provide a fenced boundary along the south border of our campus which the Municipality should had installed when they opened the dog park.

      Don Bantz

  3. Eric Parsons says:

    It’s unfortunate that APU intends to tear into the open space and trails which make it what it is. Last I checked you had 2 Olympic skiers… As planned this will be a major loss to students who recreate on those trails and the public. Seems like it would make more sense to make a true loop behind the Atwood building connecting with the APRN entrance.

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