For those steeped in transportation planning, news that Anchorage’s Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) is undergoing an update is old hat. The rest of the world population can be forgiven for wondering what that means.
To put it as simply as I can, in order to receive and use federal transportation funding Anchorage has to have and periodically update its LRTP. The plan spells out how those dollars, in addition to state and local funding, will be employed. As with most matters involving the federal government, it’s pretty complicated and has a wide variety of factors to consider.
At any rate, right now some aspects of the draft update are out for public comment (you can find more information on the AMATS web site) and there are a few items that caught my eye:
I have some concerns about the list as structured. First, I think project 201 is far too broad in scope so I asked transportation staff to break it into smaller, more digestible parts. For example, the Airport Heights interchange should be a standalone project, just like the interchange at 36th. Similarly, the “cut and cover” portion of the project in Fairview could be broken out. Once that’s done, we should consider whether it’s appropriate to advance only projects on the south end of the area or pursue a different approach that balances dollars somewhat differently. (I’d lean toward the latter.)
But all that may be a moot point if proposed changes to the Knik Arm Crossing financing plan are approved. As drafted that plan would eliminate the ”firewall” preserving state dollars for AMATS projects, meaning the funding previously used throughout the municipality for a wide variety of projects could be siphoned off to pay for the bridge. This, despite long-standing municipal policy opposing such a practice. Here’s how the Assembly stated it in AR 2007-46(S), when KABATA was lobbying to add the bridge to the current LRTP:
No funding currently planned for implementation of the existing Long-Range Transportation Plan shall be used to support construction or maintenance of any element of the Knik Arm Crossing, beyond that which is currently authorized. In addition, no local funds will be used for construction of maintenance of any element of this project.
In other words, in addition to the $100 million in federal funds and several additional millions in state matching funds, and despite the plan’s assumption that a proposal adding $150 million more in state funds will be approved by the legislature, bridge backers also want access to the limited pot of money previously reserved for more modest improvements to our transportation system.
AMATS is accepting comments on these and other matters, feel free to offer yours.
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