GLENNALLEN, Alaska (AP) — Property owners along a proposed Richardson Highway realignment told state officials the plan could devastate a local business and create accessibility issues.
The project engineer for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities promised to consider issues brought up Wednesday by residents of Meier’s Lake at a public meeting.
The Richardson Highway covers about 366 miles (589 kilometers) of sparsely populated rural Alaska between Fairbanks and Valdez.
Glennallen radio station KCAM reports about a dozen property owners attended the meeting at Meier’s Lake Roadhouse, located 55 miles (88 kilometers) north of Glennallen. The roadhouse is the only location to buy gasoline in a 150-mile (241-kilometer) stretch of highway between Glennallen and Delta Junction.
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The realignment covers about 15 highway miles (24 kilometers), including an S-curve.
Engineer project manager Russ Johnson said safety and ease of right of way through private property are at the heart of the plan. The plan calls for moving the roadway about 350 feet (107 meters) east of the current highway.
Linda Fraley bought Meier’s Lake Roadhouse two years ago. She said the realignment would take traffic away from her business.
DOT’s plan includes a pull-off that would direct traffic to the roadhouse.
Fraley and other residents with property bordering the highway said they would prefer to see a road loop through the community so buses, petroleum tankers, recreational vehicles and other traffic would not have to park and turn around in a tight space.
Greg Parrish of Gakona suggested that repairing the existing road and reducing the speed limit would be most cost effective in addressing safety concerns. Parrish also said his family could lose access to an airstrip and to Meier’s Lake for their float plane.
Johnson said the residents brought up issues that had not been considered and the agency will work with affected property owners. Public comments will be accepted through June 15.
Information from: KCAM-AM, http://www.kcam.org