News from Patrick Flynn

KABATA drama

A recent story in the Anchorage Daily News has, unsurprisingly, generated some heated comments about the Knik Arm Bridge & Toll Authority‘s (KABATA) plan to build a bridge between Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley.  The story describes a meeting of the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) policy committee where KABATA officials gave a presentation and members asked questions.  I happen to be one of two Assembly representatives on the AMATS policy committee and had several questions about this project.

As those who followed my campaign are aware, I have long cast a skeptical eye toward the Knik Arm bridge project and consider it a poor use of scarce public resources for several reasons:

  1. Growing up in Anchorage I witnessed fast-paced development that resulted in poorly-designed homes, businesses & neighborhoods that we are trying to improve.  Growth in the Anchorage bowl has led to redevelopment of areas that were previously mistreated.  I am concerned that a bridge providing access to cheap, undeveloped land will mark the end of redevelopment projects and condemn neighborhoods to years of additional neglect.
  2. The Mat-Su Borough is developing the Port MacKenzie project with an eye toward industrial development.  This is important because local governments that rely on property taxes need industrial and commercial lands to cover costs.  Simply put, industrial and commercial users don’t have children requiring public education, rarely need police services and generally contribute more in taxes than they cost in revenue.  Residential property users have the opposite effect.  If the bridge is built prior to industrial development near the port then that opportunity will be lost (not to mention the cost of bringing public infrastructure to the area).
  3. At the outset of the Knik Arm bridge process the backers stated that they didn’t have to worry about connections on either side of the bridge, their job was simply to build it.  As I told KABATA officials last week, the words might have changed but the attitude seems to be the same, as evidenced by their continued desire to cleave the Government Hill community in two and neglect needed connectivity to our highway system.  If I were king for a day the bridge design would be finalized, the approaches on both sides platted (with my preferred route connecting through Elmendorf or Ft. Richardson to the Boniface-Glenn Highway interchange) and we’d wait for growth along Knik-Goose Bay Road before building.  (FYI – an Elmendorf route was planned by the Alaskan Command but dropped by KABATA prior to rigorous investigation due to junior military officers’ objections.)
  4. We have many other worthy projects that I feel should be completed first.  A prime example is the so-called Highway-to-Highway project, which would connect the Glenn & Seward highways, provide for smoother traffic flows through Anchorage and dramatically improve the Fairview area.

At the risk of boring readers I’ll stop there.  AMATS will continue its rigorous review of KABATA’s work to date, ideas for the future and contingency planning.  Ultimately we will consider whether to include the bridge in Anchorage’s Long-Range Transportation Plan and whether to continue funding the project via the Transportation Improvement Program.  This is sure to be a vigorous debate and, as always, I welcome thoughts and ideas.



This contribution was made on Saturday, 14. June 2008 at 15:29 and was published under the category Transportation. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. the wiser ones among us figured out a long time ago that the bridge won’t be needed in our lifetimes, and there are hundreds of other more important and achievable transportation priorities.
    agree with everything you are saying, except possibly item #4. i guess i need additional convincing that the ‘bisecting’ of fairview is any less offensive than the bisecting of govt hill. in this case i’m less offended by the public process — because the state and muni have been including fairview residents in the discussion — but still concerned about the specifics. aren’t we still talking about a tunnel?

    Comment: clark – 16. June 2008 @ 10:11 am

  2. yay! the torch has been passed from Tesche to Flynn! I’m really glad to decided to do the blog, Mr. Flynn.

    Anyways to respond to the above poster, I think what makes the highway to highway project better for Fairview is that the highway will be half tunnel, half depressed (I personally think it should be all tunnel). At least from how I understood it. I don’t know if I’m missing any new info..

    Comment: marcus – 18. June 2008 @ 11:20 pm

  3. Sydon

    Comment: Sydon – 26. October 2011 @ 10:35 pm

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