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Knik Arm bridge is essential to new growth

  • Author: Rebecca Logan
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published June 17, 2009

They must be teaching new math at city hall.

Despite unwavering public support, a vocal minority wants to corner Anchorage into a planning model that has succeeded only in densely populated areas like New York City and Vancouver, B.C. This planning elite champions high-density residential and commercial building in Anchorage supported by mass transit. The idea is that increased density will reduce driving as people will utilize mass transit to shop and go to work.

That's a future with little appeal to Alaskans who simply aspire to a plot of land to call their own and the freedom to build their dream home. The Knik Arm Crossing supports this vision.

This time the planning elite is using a strategy to remove the Knik Arm Crossing from the Long Range Transportation Plan. And they've bent so many rules in their rush to push the project out of the plan before the next mayor takes office that they've received a reprimand from the state of Alaska.

In a strongly worded letter, the state warned opponents that their "willingness to violate federal law has the potential for impacts beyond just the Knik Arm Crossing" and there exist "no immediate deadlines, and no apparent reason the federally mandated procedures cannot be followed."

If this minority succeeds, Alaska may well lose a project with the potential to define the state for decades to come, much like the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, the Alaska Highway and Red Dog Mine.

When the state Legislature created the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority (KABATA) to build the crossing, it charged it with a lofty mission: to build a bridge that would provide mobility for people and freight, encourage population growth and commerce, and provide an alternative route to the Glenn Highway for public safety. The crossing is a priority state project.

KABATA has advanced this project to the point where it's nearly "shovel ready." An independent economic analysis by Insight Research Corporation determined the project would provide $18 billion in additional economic stimulus, 14,000 additional jobs and $1.2 billion in incremental local tax receipts over its first 25 years of operation. The bridge is also a win-win for the environment, reducing carbon emissions by about 90,000 metric tons in the first year alone.

Bridge opponents have created many obstacles to block this project but they've all been rendered obsolete. The last one was an effort to scare the public by calling for new cost estimates. The in-depth cost analysis came back very close to the KABATA estimate.

So let's stop the funny math and focus on how the residents of Anchorage and Mat-Su envision our future. That vision includes our kids being able to afford homes of their own, a fuel-efficient transportation corridor north to our gas line, and affordable land for our industrial neighbors.

All good reasons why 70 percent of the region's residents support keeping the Knik Arm Crossing in the city's long-range transportation plan.

Rebecca Logan is president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors, Alaska Chapter.

By REBECCA LOGAN

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