The Alaska Department of Transportation’s proposed interchange in Girdwood at the intersection of Alyeska Highway and the Seward Highway is an idea with good intentions but a poor outcome. There are many negative impacts of this proposal including the cost — more than $35 million (likely a lowball estimate), the destruction of tidal wetlands, potential loss of business to the mom and pop stores at the strip mall, and the worst offense, turning the intersection into an interstate-like cloverleaf that has all the attraction of something you would see in Los Angeles.
I know DOT’s mission is to build roads bigger so drivers can go faster, but in reality, that causes accidents with a higher rate of death and destruction. This intersection has not had a fatality in more than 40 years. It seems like DOT is creating a solution where there is no problem.
To reduce the potential for accidents, why not create a speed zone of 35 mph for a mile on each side of the intersection? To remind motorist to slow down, DOT can install signs, some with flashing warning lights, install a radar detector that flashes your speed, put in rumble strips, paint large warning signs on the roadway itself, and add a strong enforcement effort.
I’m sure there are even better ideas out there that DOTs in other states have come up with to reduce speed in potentially dangerous intersections. All these ideas would cost a mere fraction of the proposed $35 million, would preserve the tidal wetlands and eliminate the need for an ugly, over-the-top expensive cloverleaf on a designated scenic byway.
— Mark Miner
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