Friday, December 13, 2013

Either Someone Lied Or They Are Totally Incompetent - $22 Million More Needed For Bragaw Road Extension

There may well be a third option - besides lying and incompetence - but I haven't figured it out.  This is a road that the local residents opposed in huge numbers.  The several public hearings I went to opposition was 80% or more. 

But DOT gave the citizens participation contract to an engineering firm - Dowl - a company that can only benefit if the road is built.  If they don't benefit directly, many of the companies they regularly work with will.  But nobody in the state or city sees a conflict of interest. 

Despite the overwhelming public opposition of cutting a road through the greenbelt at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Dowl has come up with plans for a road.  Surpirse!

But even then, the funding came only in the closing minutes of the legislature (literally) as it was tacked on to the budget. 

All elected politicians representing this area of town opposed it:  Elvi Gray-Jackson, Dick Training (the two assembly members representing the U-Med district) and Rep. Andy Josephson and Sen. Berta Gardner. 

And now we are told, it will actually cost another $22 million.  (I can't find the article where this was announced, but there is a letter to the editor today from Rep. Josephson referencing the amount.)

That's a 100% increase in the cost.  That's not a minor miscalculation.  That doubles the price. 

Given how much these guys want to build this road, my guess is they knew all along they were severely lowballing the costs.  They did say they could only build the minimal road for now with what they got.  But now that minimal road will cost double what they said.

The point, I think, is to rip apart the forest land no matter what, so that the damage is done and can't be repaired and then they will slowly start adding funds to fix the problem they created.  And we'll have a big nasty four lane road, without any of what they call "amenties" but I call necessities like safe and usable pedestrian and bike access and ways for the wildlife that use that area to get across the road. 

And if they were really $22 million off in their calculations, then it would be clear they are much too incompetent to be trusted to carry out this project. 

I'd also point out they by-passed federal assistance with this road.  That lets them skip a lot of the environmental safeguards we normally would expect - especially when building through a wetlands area.

During the Watergate days, the phrase was "follow the money."  I'd like to see how this money gets distributed.  Which companies get contracts for how much?  Which politicians get contributions from those companies?  And maybe we should expand that to past projects that Dowl did the public participation process for. 

Now, maybe there is a third or even fourth plausible explanation.  If there is, please add it to the comments.  (I expect we won't see those comments because 3rd and 4th explanations could be even worse than the ones I've identified.)


  1. You come from LA. I know you do; I've seen your photos. (smile)

    Is Anchorage somehow more enlightened than California all-of-a-sudden? Then why not let a blasted swamp become an acceptable sacrifice for getting somewhere just bit faster. After all, public transit is so... public.

    Change your perspective, Steve! Most of Anchorage is built on reclaimed wetlands. Don't see this as a bad thing: think of it as laying a new arterial -- er, artery, to ease blockage in an engineer's dream.

    1. I trust that my readers will feel the irony vibrations emanating from your post Jacob. Yes, over the years, while decrying everything Californian, Alaskans worked hard to recreate it all here.

    2. I trust they do but thank-you for providing interpretive cover for me.


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