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36th Ave. & New Seward Hwy. interchange plan seeks public input

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 3:54 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Seward Highway’s intersection with 36th Ave. is one of the busiest and most hazardous intersections in Anchorage, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

Sean Baski, the manager of the Seward Highway/36th Avenue Interchange project, says nearly 300 crashes occurred over a five-year period at the intersection, citing a crash analysis report from 2010 to 2014.

DOT will soon hold an online open house to discuss plans to make significant changes to the interchange. “When we talk about the purpose and need for this project, it’s, one, about safety...another about congestion, and really about connecting the community,” Baski said.

Under DOT’s current plans, 36th Ave. would remain at ground-level. Baski says the main options being examined for the New Seward Hwy. would bring its traffic above 36th Ave. with a new overpass, or under 36th Ave by putting the highway in 20- to 30-foot-deep trench.

Artist conception of highway design similar to what AK DOT is studying for 36th Ave interchange...
Artist conception of highway design similar to what AK DOT is studying for 36th Ave interchange (source AK. Dept. of Transportation)(AK Dept of Transportation and Public Facilities)

“The 36th Ave interchange is really about access and providing a more safe access, a more bikeable and walkable area” Baski said.

Community councils near the interchange want to see the details. Ric Davidge, president the of the Midtown Community Council, expressed support, saying “I think it’s an essential thing. Traffic in drive-time is backed up all the way to Denali now, and it’s very difficult to get in and out of that area.”

Bob Butera heads up a committee of the Rogers Park Community Council that has been keeping tabs on proposals for traffic projects in the area. He said “if they want to put it under (36th Ave at ground level), that would be great, more power to them. It would be excellent to have the Seward Highway under.”

Butera says residents of the area would strongly oppose any efforts to build an elevated highway through the area, mainly because of concerns about noise. “The Seward Highway should not be elevated through this area. So, it’s either at grade, or it’s down below.”

Baski says the cost of the project is expected to be under $100 million, and state officials hope to secure federal funding.

“Right now, we’ve got a lot of studies going on to make sure what is the right choice for the community,” said Baski, who says DOT will host a virtual open house about the project on March 16th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

For more information, go to the project website: www.36thinterchange.com

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