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AMATS votes to keep Knik Arm bridge in city's short-term plans

March 25, 2010
  • The long-talked about Knik Arm bridge would connect downtown Anchorage with the Point MacKenzie area. (File/KTUU-DT)
The long-talked about Knik Arm bridge would connect downtown Anchorage with the Point MacKenzie area. (File/KTUU-DT)

by Jason Lamb
Thursday, March 25, 2010

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A joint city-state transportation board voted Thursday to keep the proposed Knik Arm Bridge within Anchorage's short-term plans.

Last year, with a different mayor and different Department of Transportation officials, the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transit Solutions committee voted unanimously to put the bridge on the city's list of long-term goals, which means at least until the year 2018.

The cities of Wasilla and Houston later sued the committee, saying it hadn't properly allowed for public comment. AMATS started the public comment process over again, ending with Thursday's vote.

State DOT representatives and Mayor Dan Sullivan said the project should remain in the city's short-term goals; different from what DOT and then-Mayor Mark Begich voted last year. That change of heart had committee member Patrick Flynn call out a DOT representative before the final vote.

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"The gentleman who you are representing today and I spoke on this exact topic last spring. And he and I agreed that moving this project to the Long Term (Priority) List was an acceptable compromise between the position of removing it, and leaving it in the short-term list. So I'm not concerned about my credibility, I've kept my word. I am a little concerned about DOT's," Flynn said.

Three votes -- the majority of the board-- supported keeping the bridge in Anchorage's short term plans before 2018.

Those votes included Mayor Dan Sullivan. He says there is no harm in keeping the bridge in the short-term plan, even if the plan is scrapped down the road.

"My key question, again, is more of a rhetorical one: What community would ever take back a bridge they ever built? I've never found one. Let's move forward, let's get this project moving, let's think about the development of our economy and our infrastructure for the long term," Sullivan said.

Construction costs for the bridge are estimated at $650 million to $700 million, which Knik Arm bridge supporters say will be made up with tolls.

Bridge opponents continue to argue that the numbers used to make those projections are not accurate.

Contact Jason Lamb at jlamb@ktuu.com

Alaska, Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions, committee, Knik Arm Bridge, short term priority, long term

Contact Jason Lamb at jlamb@ktuu.com

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