DOT reconsiders scope of highway improvements

The controversial highway improvement project on the Parks Highway that was to only resurface the road without additional safety features has come to a temporary halt.The project was supposed to go out for bid in the next two months, but public protest and the involvement of Mat-Su borough assembly man Vern Halter and state legislators Charlie Huggins and Mark Neuman prompted the project managers at the Department of Transportation to take a new look at the scope of the project.

According to DOT design project manager Jim Amundsen, the DOT is currently re-evaluating traffic data from as recent as 2008 for the entire stretch between mile 83 and mile 90. He said, “The intent is to analyze the data and see where it takes us.”

Senator Huggins’ office received a flood of emails from community members to the effect that the improvements to the Parks Highway need more than resurfacing of the pavement but to include safety features like turn lanes and passing lanes. Concerns mostly focused on the Caswell Lakes area, where no turn lanes exist to allow traffic to slow down before making the turn onto Hidden Hills Road.

Amundsen said that the DOT tries to present a preliminary report of their data analysis at the next Susitna Community Council meeting on February 3. He added that DOT area planner Allen Kemplen plans to attend as well.

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