At a 1 pm meeting tomorrow (Thursday, September 29) I expect the AMATS policy committee to release the draft Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) for public comment. For those who aren’t transportation wonks, it might help to learn the MTP is the guide for allocation of federal, state and local dollars and will replace the existing Long Range Transportation Plan. Here’s a story from the local paper that provides some insight.
Release of the draft MTP, which is supposed to be posted at www.amatsinfo.org, triggers a public comment period and I’ve already started working on my thoughts. Here’s what I have so far:
Rob Campbell, P.E.
Central Region Director, Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities
Chair, Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions Policy Committee
Dear Mr. Campbell,
I write in regards to the Committee Review Draft of the 2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). First off, my sincere thanks to the many people – especially the Technical Advisory Committee – who have diligently worked to develop this draft. It is a challenging task and they are to be commended for their efforts.
Unfortunately the draft MTP suffers from a fundamental flaw in that it prioritizes improvements for three major corridors – the Seward Highway, Glenn Highway and Knik Arm Crossing (KAC) – which will funnel traffic into the Central Business District (CBD) while failing to make commensurate improvements necessary to accommodate that traffic within and in the vicinity of the CBD. This can be remedied in the following manner:
Project 201, on the long-term list (page 5-76), a connector between the Glenn & Seward highways from Chester Creek to Airport Heights, should be broken into at least three elements:
- Seward Highway, Chester Creek to 5th Avenue: construct a sub-grade highway along the Gambell-Ingra corridor, with surface streets above.
- A grade-separated interchange at Airport Heights and the Glenn Highway.
- A restricted-access corridor from Airport Heights to the aforementioned Gambell-Ingra project.
Element 1 should then be advanced to the short-term list, even if this requires moving project 114 (Seward Highway improvements from 33rd Avenue to Chester Creek) to the long-term list (page 5-74).
In addition, I would be remiss if I failed to point out the inappropriateness of dissolving the “firewall” between AMATS funds and the KAC. This is contrary to direction previously provided by both Policy Committee and the Anchorage Assembly (please see AR 2007-46(S), attached). As the draft MTP states on page 6-32:
“If the actual financial plan for the Knik Arm Crossing requires more state investment or is required to draw from sources such as federal NHS funds, that affect the implementation of other MTP projects, this MTP will have to be amended to remove roadway projects from the network, resulting in worsening congestion, or new revenue sources and assumptions will need to be brought forward.”
Given that new revenue sources are highly unlikely and that a key AMATS function is reduction of congestion, it is incumbent upon us to restore the division of these fund sources and protect the integrity of projects within AMATS’ jurisdiction.
I look forward to working with you as we advance through the public process and implement appropriate changes to the MTP.
Prior to submitting my comments I’d be delighted to hear yours and, of course, encourage you to share your thoughts directly with transportation planners.
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