Senator Berta Gardner

January 13, 2013

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Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 417
Juneau, AK 99801
Call Me: 1-800-331-4930

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Northern Access to UMed Request

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Senator Berta Gardner and Staff Noah Hanson arrive at the Juneau Ferry terminal Friday evening.
Senator Berta Gardner and Staff Noah Hanson arrive at the Juneau Ferry terminal Friday evening.

           As I listened to my minster’s Sunday sermon on “New Beginnings,” I was struck by the timing as I prepare to take on a new role as your State Senator for Midtown Anchorage. During the service, I realized that what the minister was saying reminded me of what I think to myself each time I meet a constituent. In my mind I say “I am yours and you are mine.” What I mean is that I have obligations and responsibilities to each one of you and, in turn, I rely on you to share your opinions, expectations and requests to help me do the best job I can in representing you in Juneau.

           The first constituent contact of the New Year came to me last week when I received a call about the $20 million the Municipality is requesting from the State for “northern access to the University-Medical district.”

           The University Area Community Council’s most recent meeting was packed with neighbors wanting to share their opinions on this project. Council members recognized the “northern access” as proposals which, in years past, had been called both “Bragaw Extension” and “Elmore Road Extension.” Regardless of the name, all are efforts to address anticipated transportation needs of the U-Med District, the heart of Anchorage; the district supplies employment for the entire city and is projected to grow in size and population over the next 20 years.

           The Renaissance Study on this issue, submitted in September 2011, suggests that 4 of the 8 options examined merit further study. All four involve road construction to connect with Northern Lights at Bragaw Road. You can read the report here:

           During the discussion, members of the Council made a variety of points including:

  • An update to the Master Plan for the U-Med district is in process right now. It seems premature to fund a major road, bisecting the area, before the plan is complete. Members who attend the U-Med Plan meetings reported there has been no discussion of a need for a new access road from the north.
  • Members recognize the need to plan for efficient access but want to see consideration of alternatives to new roads. Alternatives might include parking and transportation hubs at the perimeter of the district, with shuttles or trails to the interior of the campus.
  • Members are concerned about adverse impacts on the wetlands, wildlife and on the well-loved trails and recreation areas which contribute greatly to athletic programs at UAA, APU, East High and the health of local neighborhoods.
  • When the proposed new sports facility (currently under construction at the corner of Providence Drive and Elmore Road) was presented to the neighborhood community councils, planners stated that the facility would not create a need for the road extension.

           Ultimately, the council passed a resolution “opposing any new arterial roadway project designed to connect the UMed District from Northern Lights Boulevard east of UAA Drive.” The Council discussed the option of passing a new resolution if future information persuaded them to feel differently.

           I expect to hear from other Community Councils about this road project and will be looking for comments, proposals and resolutions of support or opposition.

I’m Berta and I’m Listening...

signed: Berta

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