News from Patrick Flynn


Regular readers know I’ve been cautiously optimistic about the potential of the so-called Highway to Highway project, which would provide a freeway connection between the Glenn and Seward highways.  The most likely solution would entail a below-grade (cut and cover, in transportation vernacular) route in the vicinity of Hyder Street to link with Fifth Avenue somewhere near Merrill Field.  This approach has the potential to reunite Fairview, which is currently divided by the Ingra-Gambell couplet, thereby improving neighborhood access to businesses and amenities on either side.  Aside from the obvious benefits to vehicular traffic, that’s why I’ve been generally supportive of the project, and that’s why I’m concerned that it appears the project is slowly dying.

Consider the evidence.  I’ve attended several meetings where H2H project personnel have apologized to audience members about their lack of progress.  They’ve conveyed that the DOT commissioner’s and Governor‘s offices have essentially ordered them to stop work on the project.  (Being good public servants they aren’t quite that direct; I’m simply cutting through the multiple layers of platitudes so you don’t have to.)

Add to that the on-going update to Anchorage’s Long Range Transportation Plan, which will direct use of federal transportation dollars for the foreseeable future.  At a recent meeting each of the four models presented by consultants working on that plan included the Knik Arm Crossing but Highway-to-Highway was omitted from one of them.  So I asked the question, “where’s the model without KAC and with H2H?”  The response?  They were told to assume KAC would be built.  Obviously, the same can’t be said of H2H.

Further, DOT insiders indicate the H2H project is being wound down and personnel diverted to other projects.  Heck, I get reports that the governor won’t even talk to the mayor on this subject.  Put it all together and the writing on the wall is clear; H2H is a political orphan left on the doorstep of obscurity.  But why?  Here’s my guess.

In the infancy of the H2H project KAC backers expressed fears that momentum behind the former would drain it from the latter, a very reasonable concern.  After all, H2H stands to benefit the vast majority of both the Anchorage and Mat-Su populations while KAC benefits very, very few.  Indeed, the aforementioned model that omitted H2H demonstrated massive stress on numerous Anchorage arterial roads that would frustrate Southcentral commuters for decades to come.  Sensing that a successful H2H project could doom KAC, state officials made the decision to place KAC ahead of H2H in their planning and construction queues, thereby starving H2H of resources and authority to proceed.  As KAC continues to bog down due to the shortcuts backers took in its early stages (remember when it was supposed to be privately financed?  Clearly KABATA has forgotten…) H2H has emaciated to the point where’s it’s likely no longer viable.

Can H2H be saved?  I doubt it and, even if it could, I’m not sure I’d still support it due to fears it would be “de-scoped.”  If it gets built on the cheap it’s more likely to further divide, rather than unite, Fairview, which is contrary to H2H’s promise.



This contribution was made on Sunday, 01. May 2011 at 04:20 and was published under the category Transportation. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Why don’t you just be honest, Mr. Flynn, and admit that you never wanted either project but you like to say what you think voters in your district want to hear? The Knik Arm Crossing has been a hope of many people in Anchorage and the valley for decades; your mother fought against it when she was on the assembly, and the nut doesn’t fall far from the bush.

    The Mat-Su Valley has a ferry being built so they can provide some kind of first step toward an alternate route between Anchorage and the valley, but since you don’t represent anybody in the valley you can point to the H2H plan as a missed opportunity to connect the road from the valley to the road from Seward. Oh whoopie!

    Comment: donn Liston – 02. May 2011 @ 9:47 pm

  2. Bringing more traffic from the Valley into Anchorage may be good for Valley residents, but does little for those of us who live in Anchorage and have to deal with the increased traffic congestion. We currently do not have the infrastructure to accomodate the increased load that might (or might not) come as a result of the Knik Arm Bridge. If the bridge gets built, what if a toll booth were also installed on the Glenn Highway as well?

    Comment: Jed Smith – 03. May 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  3. I travel part of that highway (from Eagle River) every day, and Anchorage benefits greatly from the numbers of automobiles that come in from the valley to do business here. The real problem is that commuters must drive 30+ miles to get across Knik Arm. By building a crossing Anchorage would benefit by having an alternate route out of Anchorage. With the growth of the Mat/Su Valley, traffic is going to increase either way but a Knik Arm Crossing would greatly reduce gas consumption and generation of pollution between the two metropolitan areas.

    Comment: Donn Liston – 03. May 2011 @ 4:35 pm

  4. Mr. Liston: Have you read any of the material that has been published about the Knik Arm Bridge in the past few years? Apparently little or none except that which was put out by KABATA. While there are some arguments for a bridge, there are also some reasonable doubts about the timing, the benefits (and who will actually see those benefits) and particularly the planning process and the connection issues. You might try to do some more research. In addition, your smarmy comments about Mr. Flynn’s motives and his mother’s influence are not an argument and certainly not a reasonable response to his comments. You seem willing to sling BS but not to do your homework and respond with reason.

    Comment: Steve – 04. May 2011 @ 11:32 am

  5. Mr. Liston: Hopefully you understand that you would need to live south of Wasilla about 8 or 10 miles down Knik Goose Bay road, or out past Houston to actually have a shorter commute and to balance out the gas/vs toll costs. For the rest of the MSB commuters, it will continue to be faster and cheaper to continue using the Glenn. So, while you may have drunk KABATA’s KoolAid, building the Bridge to Nowhere really won’t help your commute from Eagle River at all. To the contrary, buidling the H2H would help your commute. Want to really help out? Replace the Eagle River bridges. That money could come from the $50 Million that KABATA is still spending out of the $104 Million that they got from the Feds & State back in 2006, plus the $150 million that they are asking the Legislature for, plus the $40 or $50 million PER YEAR that they are promising to pay their foreign “Public Private Partners” for the paltry sum of $78 Million that the P3 “partner” are willing to put up to help pay for the project.

    Want to do some actual homework? Go to and get informed.

    Comment: Bob – 05. May 2011 @ 12:33 pm

  6. Looks like I touched a nerve; I never suggested a Knik Arm Crossing would shorten MY commute, nor do I care one whit about all the bureaucratic paperwork generated to keep busy-bodies on the public payroll. What I DO know, is this has been a hope and dream of many Alaskans for decades and Mr. Flynn is just the latest of the downtown elite who think they know what is better for not only everybody in Anchorage, but also for everyone in the rapidly growing valley.

    The Mat-Su Borough is going to some expense to have a ferry built to begin the service which will help Alaskans who need access to Anchorage to have another alternative to the drive. As the popularity of the ferry builds there likely will be Alaskans who will arrive at a way to break the stranglehold of narrow politicians and their supporters who say they will support one thing, are opposed to another, then switch allegiances to each according to the political winds. I’ve watched it long enough to understand from where it comes and to where it has led us until now.

    Comment: Donn Liston – 05. May 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  7. The Sunday ADN has a comprehensive article about the new ship the Mat-Su Borough Assembly has partnered to build with the U.S. Navy in hopes of beginning to provide ferry service over Knik Arm. What leadership is Mr. Flynn willing to contribute toward getting a terminal built on this side?

    Comment: donn liston – 08. May 2011 @ 5:32 pm

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