Port of Savannah's $220.5M Upgrade to Double Capacity

Alaska DOT Backs Off Highway Plan Affecting Refuge

Wed December 26, 2012 - West Edition
CEG


The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported state planners have dropped consideration of extending McGrath Road, which could have taken acres out of Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported state planners have dropped consideration of extending McGrath Road, which could have taken acres out of Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) Proposed transportation improvements to relieve congestion in northeast Fairbanks will no longer include a road extension that could have cut through a state game refuge, according to the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported state planners have dropped consideration of extending McGrath Road, which could have taken acres out of Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.

Two months ago, more than 100 people showed up at a department open house to hear about the proposed extension. Most opposed the project.

Cost and environmental considerations were factors — the expense of building and maintaining a road across permafrost-laden soils would have been expensive, DOT project manager Al Beck said.

“Everything was aligning that this was not the proper fix,” he said.

The department will instead improve traffic flow by focusing on revisions to existing roads, Beck said.

The department wants to lessen congestion where the Steese Highway meets the Johansen Expressway. The intersection is just north of a shopping complex that includes major box stores including Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Barnes and Noble, Fred Meyer and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Motorists sometimes face wait times longer than three minutes to clear the intersection. The DOT classifies it as a failed intersection.

Bill Holman, president of the nonprofit Friends of Creamer’s Field, praised the DOT decision regarding the refuge.

“I think that’s wonderful,” Holman said. “We were very concerned.”

The Federal Highways Administration is helping fund congestion relief but hasn’t approved the revised scope of the project. The paperwork will be submitted soon, Beck said.