U-Med trail users stage "Peaceful Protest Party" against road

Michelle Theriault Boots
Bill Roth

Dozens of U-Med area residents gathered on a mountain-framed ski trail near the UAA campus Sunday to protest a controversial road project that would cut through the area.

The event, billed as a "Big Wild U-Med Peaceful Protest Party," came weeks after the transportation department, university and hospital planners selected the route of the proposed $20 million road, which would link Bragaw Street and Elmore Road.

Backers say the long-discussed project will ease traffic congestion and increase access to the busy U-Med district.

Neighbors have said they fear losing green space and ski trails, as well as increased congestion at nearby school sites.

Several community councils have passed resolutions against the project, said Gretchen Nelson, a longtime Airport Heights resident and organizer of Sunday's event.

"After these meetings, there's a feeling like, we're not being heard," she said. "Part of the hope is to show how much we value this place."

Nelson said she expected "maybe 10" attendees. Forty or so came.

The event was a party. There were snowshoes, fat tire bikes, cross-country skis, sleds, bags of tortilla chips, watermelons, snowball-tossing children and romping dogs. State Reps. Andy Josephson and Geran Tarr showed up.

An email sign up-sheet was passed around.

The group is discussing what to do next, Nelson said.

Finally, a few members of the group broke into an anthem that reworked a famous Woody Guthrie tune to support the cause: "This land," they sang, "was made for moose and me."

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.