News from Patrick Flynn

LRTP update

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:

  • Aspects of the so-call H2H project are in the plan, but in different places.  The short-term list includes project 104, priced at $108 million, an interchange at 36th Avenue and Seward Highway including braided ramps connecting to the Tudor Road interchange. 
  • Project 114, priced at $178 million, is also on the short term list and would reconstruct the Seward Highway as a depressed freeway, include interchanges at Northern Lights and Benson Boulevards, and reconstruction of Old Seward Highway from 33rd Avenue to 20th Avenue.
  • Meanwhile, project 201 comes in at a whopping $605 million and would construct a freeway connection between the Seward Highway at 20th Avenue and the Glenn Highway at Airport Heights Drive.  [It] includes an interchange at Airport Heights, freeway access and egress ramps elsewhere along the alignment, depressed sections of freeway that include the construction of bridges and decking above the freeway for cross streets, community amenities, and redevelopment of highway airspace.  But that project is on the long term list.

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.



This contribution was made on Tuesday, 30. August 2011 at 17:17 and was published under the category Transportation. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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