Anchorage neighborhood to receive $537K in federal grant to ‘reconnect’ community

Fairview neighborhood to receive $537K in federal grant to ‘reconnect’ community
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 11:20 AM AKST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2023 at 7:06 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An Anchorage neighborhood will receive over half a million dollars from a federal grant to what the U.S. Department of Transportation says will help reconstruct and reconnect the community.

In a release Tuesday morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced $537,660 set aside for the Fairview neighborhood in efforts to “revitalize” the community.

Buttigieg called it in the release “a first-of-its-kind initiative to reconnect communities that are cut off from opportunity and burdened by past transportation infrastructure decisions.” It is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden that will invest over $1 billion over five years to many communities across the country. It aims to support neighborhoods by removing barriers and allowing them more social and economic opportunities. Fairview is one of just 45 projects that will be receiving historic grant awards.

The grant money will go to the nonprofit Anchorage Neighborhood Housing Services — which conducts business under the name “NeighborWorks Alaska” — to help reconstruct the roads and pathways throughout the area to help foster a safer community.

One of the largest barriers of living in or near Fairview is the Gambell Street and Ingra Street corridor, which is a high-speed road that runs directly through the Fairview neighborhood and presents safety concerns to residents. The planning award will reportedly use funds to address traffic and safety problems in the Gambell/Ingra streets corridor, which runs 10 blocks through Fairview.

“It’s wrong, it’s an injustice that has been done to the people of Fairview and it’s gone on too long,” Fairview Community Council President Allen Kemplen said.

“You have (a) high-speed federal highway, you know, a couplet Gambell and Ingra bisecting a neighborhood and that for decades has impacted quality of life, economic investment, safety through that corridor,” Anchorage Assembly member Daniel Volland said. Volland represents North Anchorage, which includes the Fairview neighborhood.

NeighborWorks Alaska applied in partnership with the Fairview Community Council for the grant and they believe the grant money will reenvision the corridor and make the future of the neighborhood something that’s safe, connected and vibrant for all residents.

The release said safety for all road users, which includes pedestrians on foot and bikes, and nonmotorized transportation is the top priority for the plan.

NeighborWorks Alaska Director of Community Engagement Lindsey Hajduk said it’s all about reconnecting the neighborhood and focusing on the equity and environmental justice issues of the past, and correcting those in the future.

“We are hoping to use this opportunity to focus on social equity and safe access for people that aren’t just in cars, so people on foot or biking or on wheels so wheelchairs, scooters, those kinds of things,” Hajduk said.

Previous efforts from NeighborWorks Alaska have been in partnership with the Fairview Community Council on the “Fairness for Fairview” project, which was created chiefly to help prevent pedestrian deaths, among other issues.

The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is starting to look at options to address some of the issues within the Fairview neighborhood. DOT Project Manager Kevin Jackson said that all of their concepts and ideas are preliminary and could possibly change completely.

“Hopefully we can come up with a solution here that, you know, addresses both of our problems, we separate out the highway traffic from the local traffic,” Jackson said.

Fairview residents can visit the DOT project website for the Seward-Glenn mobility study to give insights on improving the accessibility, safety and livability for people in regards to the roadway system connecting the Seward Highway and Glenn Highway.