Monday, December 07, 2015

Why I Live Here: Our Mayor Stops The Bragaw Extension

On one side, opposing the extension of the road through the university land where moose and other animals traverse, where cross country skiers ski, and nature reins, mostly, were all the surrounding community councils, the people who live near by.  Also opposed were the local Assembly members representing the area where the road would be and the state representative for that area and the state senator for that area.

On the other side, supporting the road, were the Department of Transportation, that ignored all the public comment over a several year process to continue to plan for a road.  DOWL Engineering that had the contract for the citizen participation process.  And apparently lots of builders and developers who were big supporters of former Mayor Sullivan who requested the state keep the road and got it along with a $20 million allocation into the state budget at the last minute several years ago.  Providence Hospital, the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Alaska Pacific University in meetings closed to the public gave support, though we aren't sure how strong it was and what incentives they were given.

Even though the state state budget was facing drastic cuts for school and many other essential services due to falling oil revenues, the state kept this project that was opposed overwhelmingly by people in the neighborhood.

Well, it turns out that what one mayor gives, another mayor can take away.  Still fairly new Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz last week pulled the city's support of the road.  The state, saying that without the local support, would cut the project.

Along Northern Lights very near where the road would have gone
Lots of people fought long and hard to stop this unnecessary road which would have cut through what I've been calling Anchorage's Central Park.  It's a big green swath in midtown by the Universities, that is wonderful recreation site, and a natural infrastructure project that cleans the air and the water,
as well as preserving water that would otherwise end up in sewers and go out to see.  It quiets the region and provides refuse for moose and other animals and birds.  Think I exaggerate?
Read E.O. Wilson's The Future of Life.

I asked three of last April's mayoral candidates whether they would stop the road if elected.  Candidate Berkowitz gave the strongest indication that he would.

I thank him for keeping this campaign promise.  This is a big deal for the future of Alaska.

The people who want to connect every gap in every road, the people who make money from cutting trees and building things where they were and the politicians they support will be back on this sooner or later.  But for now, we're ok.  A big victory in the many battles for preventing Anchorage from looking like every other overdeveloped urban center and for preserving the reason that many of us live here.


  1. Steve, I have two reactions. One is based on my observation that roads are just too far gone already, grounded in devotion to the auto. Our cars need their stomping grounds, always eating terrain. We casually use our cars, not our legs to move about. On this side, the extension just makes sense. It moves people about more readily from point c to g.

    But then there's the 'reason I live here' side of me -- the one that calls me to see how very much it is the LAND, fool, that makes me want to live in ANC. And I'm then very much against this road being punched through this city's remnant wilderness.

    But as I don't live there any more, I leave it to you all to decide. Your ongoing choice is clear and the results couldn't be much different from one another.

    The real answer still rests with finding ways to create livable northern cities that have human-scale density that naturally supports public means of transport -- non-automotive means of moving, at the very least.

    Last point. I know far too many people who maintain WHO is elected makes no difference. Can these folks please raise their hands for one guilty moment and maybe -- just maybe -- not let another election cycle go by without knowing who stands for what you want in your community and support that result by voting, please?

    It does matter who leads for us. Only look at Trump.

    1. I haven't responded to many comments lately because I'm still nursing a nasty cough, busy, and some comments, like this one, do not really call for a response. But I do appreciate your commenting.


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