Compass: It's time to quit denuding the land for cars

Last week I went to Providence for a lab test. Standing in front of the information desk was a surgeon in full scrubs, asking directions. When even the staff has to ask for directions, this place is too big.

Now comes the "U-Med Road Route" the issue about how, when and where to cut through one of the few peaceful urban spaces left in Anchorage. Four routes are under consideration. The first two funnel traffic into the heart of the UAA east campus (and into a pond). No one could support this dumb idea, especially UAA.

Another route cuts straight from East Northern Lights intersection to Bragaw. The final route curves further east on Northern Lights.

Why? Providence Hospital says it needs greater access. It has already pushed its campus south to Tudor Road and built so many buildings that one needs to drop bread crumbs to find one's way from parking lot to medical care.

Then there's UAA. It has been ambivalent regarding a north-south route, depending on who's on the board of regents and the current chancellor. Right now they are "participants in the planning process." Never mind that they are building a sports arena that will not only attract traffic but also completely denuded several acres of spruce growth.

Carol Comeau, former superintendent of Anchorage Schools, vocally opposed an extension of Bragaw, noting that it would pose a dangerous traffic hazard at an already busy intersection at East High School.

Alaska Pacific University supports the road because it will allow it to commercially develop its land and lease it for profit to support the school (just as they have at the intersection of Providence Drive and Bragaw). More deforestation to support education? Do we really need another Muldoon Road?

The one entity most at risk by this "development" is Alaska Public Media (KSKA, KAKM & APRN) whose building abuts the two logical routes. Both construction and traffic may interfere with its signal, a public service that reaches the entire state. But Alaska Public Media is neutralized (some would say held hostage) by APU, its landlord.

Traffic engineers build roads to accommodate cars. History has shown that building more and bigger roads does not improve traffic circulation. It merely increases traffic. Remember the song lyric, "they paved paradise and put in a parking lot?" At what point do we stop denuding the land to simply accommodate the almighty automobile?

Heather Flynn is a former Anchorage Assembly member.