Recent accidents and rockslides on the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm highlight a problem I have watched get worse during the past 52 years that I’ve been driving between Kenai and Anchorage.
We need to build a causeway across Turnagain Arm from Beluga Point to a point a couple miles west of Hope. From this point, the road would fork, with the east branch connecting with the Hope Road. Going west at the fork, a 50-mile road would need to be built through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to Kenai. This route would be relatively flat and give better access to Graycliff Subdivision and the Swanson River gas fields, and would be a beautiful drive with many lakes and scenic forests. All traffic going to Kenai, Soldotna, Sterling, Homer, Ninilchik, Anchor Point etc., would be taking 100 miles off the drive. The drive to Hope, Cooper Landing and Seward would greatly be shortened and eliminate one of the mountain passes.
One of the best results of the causeway would be lowering the traffic along Turnagain Arm from Beluga Point eastward to Girdwood and Portage to a trickle. This section of the Seward Highway has been notoriously dangerous. The portion of the Seward Highway between Portage and the Hope cutoff would be virtually unused by all except a few snowmachiners and skiers.
The causeway could be built using the abundance of rock along the north side of the Seward Highway. This would move the rock cliffs away from the Seward Highway, keeping rock slides from reaching the highway. It would also create a beautiful 25-mile freshwater lake between the causeway and Portage for boating, fishing, waterskiing and, in the winter, iceboating. A fish ladder would have to be built so that fish could get past the causeway into the lake, so they could access the rivers for spawning.
This changing of the flow of traffic would totally eliminate any need for rebuilding the road through Cooper Landing. This beautiful quaint town along the Kenai River could become a great destination for tourists and fishermen rather than a small town dealing with trucks and a high volume of fast-moving traffic.
The amount of fuel saved, the increased ease of moving products to the consumers on the Kenai Peninsula, along with the lives saved, would more than justify the cost of this project.
— Thomas M. Thibodeau
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