WE NEED YOUR HELP CONNECTING ANCHORAGE TO THE BIRD-TO-GIRD TRAIL
Commenters like YOU needed!
CONNECTING ANCHORAGE TO THE BIRD-TO-GIRD TRAIL
Summer 2020, Bike Anchorage commented on a planned Alaska DOT project to upgrade the Seward Highway at Windy Corner MP105-107 (2 miles). At that time, DOT’s plans did not include the construction of a separated path along the highway, even though the stated intent was to build a path there at some point in the future. The Project Team stated that right-of-way was being made for a path, not actually building room along the corridor. Despite the massive work planned to widen the highway, blast large sections of cliff, and move the railroad, the additional work to construct the 10 foot path was not deemed valuable.
A major project update: “Windy Corner to Rainbow Point (MP105-109.5)”
But now there’s some good news! Following extensive community feedback, DOT has updated the project to include “considering” constructing a path. This is especially good news because the updated project has been extended by 2.5 miles and will now cover the stretch between the Falls Creek Trailhead and Rainbow Trailhead.
Project map from http://www.windycorner.info/
Building a separated pathway makes even more sense now that the project is longer (4.5 miles), and would also provide an option to travel between the two trailheads without getting back in your car. Improving safety is a major stated goal of this project, and including the separated pathway is crucial to realize that goal.
Building the path on this section is also the next essential step toward connecting Anchorage to the popular Bird to Gird Trail. This project spans 4.5 miles of the remaining 12-mile gap from Potter Marsh (Old Seward Hwy) to Indian rd, where the separated pathway currently starts. We would love to have the option of biking all the way from home to Girdwood without ever having to get on the highway shoulder!
The Bird to Gird Trail (above) is a safe, quiet, and scenic route that is MUCH more welcoming than the highway shoulder.
The highway shoulder at the project site (above). note the gavel and highway debris that narrow any width shoulders down to 2-feet.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
DOT has opened a new period for public comment on this updated project. Please submit a written comment any time before July 15th. Comments can be sent to:
Tom Schmid, P.E. - Project Manager
DOT&PF Central Region Preliminary Design & Environmental
P.O. Box 196900
Anchorage, AK 99519-6900
Email: [email protected]
More personalized comments are better. Although written comments do not need to be long or detailed - you can simply state that you are in favor of constructing a separated path along the highway corridor with the Windy to Rainbow project. Bike Anchorage will be preparing a detailed letter after the open house, and we’ll make it publicly available before the July 15th deadline in case you’d like to get some ideas for your own comment.
Example Arguments DOWL and DOT are using against building pathway that you can address:
1. The Project/pathway doesn't connect to the Bird to Gird so it shouldn't be built.
-This is frustrating because DOT just built a Bird to Gird pathway extension in a project that went to MP 105 (the end of Windy Corner project), but left out building a pathway all the way to that mile point. This was a critical link knowing this pathway was a needed link. We know the highway is built in sections and each mile of pathway is critical. Building the pathway with this project is much cheaper and more likely to happen than a special pathway project in the distant future.
2. The Pathway will send users into the highway.
-We know that engineers and designers can make plenty of small and temporary pathway adjustments to warn and stop regular pathway users from "accidentally" walking into the highway. There are also roads and driveways that the project could connect to, giving those residents access to safe walking and bikein facilities.
3. People biking the highway will have wider shoulders so they should be happy.
- adding 4.5 of pathway to the 12 remaining miles of highway without pathway will dramatically improve safety and comfort of users. We know even the widest of shoulders get buried in gavel and force people on bike close to high speed vehicles (see photo above).
Thanks for reading and commenting. See you on the trails!