ANCHORAGE — The state Department of Transportation is considering four possible road extension plans to improve access through the University of Alaska Anchorage.
DOT design project manager Jim Amundsen told the Anchorage Daily News that a new road is needed to allow growth for the university and nearby medical facilities, which include Providence Alaska Medical Center, the Alaska Native Medical Center and medical offices linked to the two hospitals.
Amundsen said city, university and medical facility representatives will have a say in the final choice.
“We’re all going to be part and parcel of it. ... It’s going to be as a group, this is what needs to be done,” he said.
Critics say a road extension will attract drivers looking for a shortcut through the campuses and will slice through green space on UAA or the adjoining Alaska Pacific University. More than 150 people attended a 2011 public meeting on a proposed road extension, and many expressed opposition to a road.
One route under consideration would create a north-south route directly between two existing streets. Two routes would connect only the north section of UAA to a major thoroughfare, Northern Lights Boulevard. A fourth would connect Tudor Road and Northern Lights with a curving road along the boundary of UAA and Alaska Pacific University.
Amundsen said the department hopes to have a single choice by next year.
The Alaska Legislature this year appropriated $20 million for the road. Gov. Sean Parnell could veto the money.
Providence hospital does not have a preferred route but supports better access, said spokeswoman Kirsten Schultz.
UAA’s position is that a road is needed, said Vice Chancellor for Administration Bill Spindle.
“Traffic congestion is getting to be too much,” Spindle said. “Especially UAA Drive. There’s so much pressure on UAA Drive because there’s no other way to go.”
Adding to the traffic next year will be fans attending events at UAA’s new sports arena that’s under construction across the street from the Providence hospital. The arena will seat about 5,600 and will open in August 2014.