At a public forum in Anchorage Tuesday night, residents got a look at plans for a proposed access road in Midtown's bustling U-Med district. The area, home to several education and medical facilities, employs 11 percent of the city's workforce.
“It’s going to be done, it needs to be done -- traffic is getting worst and worst. They’ve waiting long enough,” U-Med district resident Nancy Lee said at the hearing.
The planned route would extend Elmore Road through University of Alaska Anchorage property that connects to the intersection of Bragaw Street and Northern Lights Boulevard. The majority of that land is a wooded area.
Carolyn Ramsey, a member of the Airport Heights Community Council, said her group is one of four organizations that have passed resolutions opposing the project. Opponents' main concern is losing land which many people enjoy for recreational use.
“You have a lot of the ski trails back there," Ramsey said. "The (Alaska Pacific University) ski team trains back there, the UAA ski team and the running teams train back there.”
“This is my backyard and understandably I’m not for this project -- it’s not something I’m happy about,” said U-Med resident Mark Wedeking.
Authorities behind the road extension say they've seen support for the project across the board. They said Tuesday night’s open house was intended to get feedback from the public.
“Over the next eight to 12 months, we’ll be working very hard with the public to refine the alignment, tweak the design and make sure that we do everything we can do to enhance our selected route so it serves the public the best way going forward,” said project manager Steward Osgood.
The two-land road extension is just less than a mile long and will include three roundabouts, bike lands and pedestrian crossings. Project officials say it could be usable as soon as next year. They estimate construction could start in the next 12 months, with an opening date set for fall of 2015.
The estimated price tag for the project is approximately $19.4 million.