Major Seward Highway project proposed near Girdwood
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In an effort to improve safety at the intersection of the Seward Highway and Alyeska Highway, Girdwood might get a new interchange.
According to the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, the proposed project remains in the early planning phase. The design, once completed, will loop over the wetlands near the Seward Highway, allowing drivers to head into Girdwood without needing to stop.
Amanda Tuttle owns Coast Pizza located just off the intersection leading into Girdwood for a year and a half. Tuttle worries that this new proposal will take business away as she relies on the traffic to stay busy. She says as a business owner, the goal is to always want to grow and do well, and location is a huge asset to the businesses in Girdwood. Tuttle has lived in Girdwood since 2005 and sees first-hand each day that the intersection is of high concern to herself and other members of the community.
“It’s a unique intersection with very different needs than some other intersections that have been developed,” Tuttle said. “I think if we all think outside the box we can probably come up with something that will make everyone happy.”
Traffic and businesses are just one part of the concern. Co-Chair for Girdwood Board Supervisors Mike Edgington says he is seeing a lot of pushback based on the scale of the project. According to Edgington, people within the community recognize the need, but feel the $35 million price tag could be better spent elsewhere within the state.
“A lot of people in the community see this as a potential overkill — a very large project — and a lot of impact to the wetland,” Edginton said. “There are probably solutions that are less extensive and less damaging to the wetlands.”
Officials with the department said that anytime they do a project that involves wetlands, their natural practice is to minimize and mitigate any impacts to avoid net harm. Christina Huber, Project Manager for DOTPF, says this venture is more about being preemptive as tourism continues to grow and crashes become more likely.
“We are concerned that as the traffic grows, as Girdwood grows, as tourism grows, this problem is going to become worse and worse,” Huber stated.
It is estimated that the new roadways will cost between $35 and 39 million to complete. Anchorage planning and zoning says they will review a concept at the end of 2022 before construction begins.
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