Campus roads debated

Each day, 24,000 vehicles enter UAA through the intersection of Seawolf and Providence drives, according to research by DOWL Engineers.

Authors of the Tudor Area Traffic Calming Study, conducted by DOWL, presented their research to the public Nov. 3 at Lake Otis Elementary and took public comments regarding future road construction in the neighborhoods surrounding UAA.

Providence Alaska Medical Center hired Anchorage-based DOWL, but the Municipality of Anchorage paid half of the tab for the research.

Traffic calming has reduced the average speed of traffic and the frequency of traffic jams in the Mountain View, Fairview and Russian Jack neighborhoods, said Steve Nobles, project manager of the study.

Nobles could not say how effective speed-reducing street plans, such as speed bumps and narrow intersections, are at reducing traffic accidents.

“You could write a book on the subject,” Nobles said.

Traffic calming researchers do, however, say they watch for disadvantageous effects of speed reducers on fire and rescue response time.

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“We’re here to talk about neighborhood streets and what we can do to give it back to the residents,” Nobles said.

A woman in attendance at the Lake Otis Elementary meeting asked what DOWL was going to do to ensure there would be more sidewalks and safer routes for pedestrians around the hospital and university.

“We don’t have a planned project in mind,” Noble said. “We’re here to get your advice and are taking notes on what you are saying.”

The study presentation and discussion is part of the decades-long debate of extending Bragaw Street from Tudor Road through the UAA and APU campuses to Northern Lights Boulevard. There is no blueprint for the extension in the August 2005 Long Range Transportation Plan.

Susan Klein, University Area Community Council president, is opposed to the extension.

“Why do they need to put in a road when there’s already one there?” Klein said. “A lot of the property would go through Class-A wetlands. There are all these roads going into our area and there will be more pollution.”

Klein said the residents around the university are affected by the carbon monoxide from cars idling at intersections in the winter, and the transportation department should focus on updating Boniface to reduce the problem in nearby neighborhoods.

The university could sell or trade the wetlands to the city, but it won’t because there is no plan for the extension, said Cyndi Spear, associate vice chancellor of facilities and campus services.

“If our land is to be used in this project, we would expect substantial compensation,” Spear said. “However, there isn’t a proposal on the table; it’s just a concept.”

The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved a long-range plan through 2023 that does not show a Bragaw extension. UAA will study the renewed interest of the extension, but the regents would ultimately decide the issue.

The extension is not necessary for the university’s growth, Spear said, but an extension would provide new opportunities.

Alaska State Senator Johnny Ellis, who was once a student senator at UAA, said he would go along with whatever UAA decides to do with the Bragaw extension.

“I’m concerned about the future development of the university,” Ellis said. “A pedestrian having to cross a major roadway on campus, I’m not a fan.”

Dan Coffey, member of the Anchorage assembly and director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority, said he is trying to find a route that will create public access from the north to UAA, APU and Providence.

“I spoke with [APU’s] President Doug North on three or four occasions concerning the north access issue. He expressed his support for reviewing the north access to the district,” Coffey wrote in an e-mail.

If approved, the north access project would not begin for at least five years.