Comment on the Sterling Highway MP 45-60 Project
RESULTs June, 2018
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) signed a Record of Decision (ROD) on May 31, 2018. The ROD officially selects the Juneau Creek Alternative to design and construct. This completes the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review.
Based on public and agency comments on the Final EIS, two additional mitigation measures have been added by DOT&PF and FHWA:
- A fourth dedicated wildlife underpass at the Bean Creek Trail crossing of the Juneau Creek Alternative. Location and design will be refined during final design. This additional crossing brings the total to five major wildlife crossings (4 underpasses and one overcrossing - Alaska's first bridge dedicated to wildlife use)
- A separated roadside pathway on the south side of the highway between Quartz Creek Road and the intersection of the "old" highway. The precise terminus at the western end and its connection to the existing "safety path" along the old highway will be determined during final design.
Thank you to all who helped make this happen by writing comments on the draft EIS!
Be heard. comments are due by April 16, 2018
Scroll down for Sample Letter and Comments you can use to paste into the project comment page at http://sterlinghighway.net/submit.html.
The Sterling Highway MP 45-60 Project, a.k.a. the Cooper Landing Bypass, is again making promises to proceed. It is time to make sure the comments of those who know the land and its uses are heard by the designers, engineers and planners of this project. It is not safe to assume that all relevant information has been shared, retained, known or is fully understood.
Whether you are a Cooper Landing resident who has continued to submit comments since the first draft of the plan 36 years ago, a seasonal user of the unique and valuable resources of the valley surrounding the headwaters of the Kenai River, or are somewhere in-between - it is time to make sure you are heard.
Please join the Cooper Landing Walkable Community Project in calling attention to the existing uses that are threatened by the Project, the need to reevaluate proposed mitigation measures to more directly address the impacts of the project, and the obligation to address existing infrastructure deficiencies regardless of new construction.
You will find a sample letter template for your comments but please make sure to customize them enough for them to be considered unique. Explaining why a Walkable Cooper Landing is important to you specifically is the best way for the reviewers to know this is important to individuals and the community. You can replace the XXXXX’s with your name at the top and the bottom of the letter and why a Walkable Cooper Landing is important to you.
You can help by submitting comments before the April 16 deadline to the MP 45-60 Project managers at: http://sterlinghighway.net/submit.html
or by mail at:
Sterling Highway MP 45-60 Project
DOT&PF Central Region
PO Box 196900
Anchorage, AK 99519-6900
You can increase your influence by contacting the land managers and letting them know your thoughts in addition to comments to the project planners.
Chugach National Forest
Attn: Forest Supervisor
161 East 1st Ave., Door 8
Anchorage, AK 99501
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Attn: Refuge Manager
P.O. Box 2139
1 Ski Hill Rd.
Soldotna, Alaska 99669-2139
Sample Letter with Suggested Comments
Sterling Highway MP 45-60 Project Planners,
My name is XXXXXX and I support a Walkable Cooper Landing because XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Residents and visitors of Cooper Landing, AK have made their way through the community along a path parallel to the Sterling Highway for decades. The community has held a trail run annually along the “Safety Path” to promote and celebrate the use this pathway provides the community on a daily basis year round.
The Sterling Highway MP 45-60 Project has the potential to meaningfully improve these users’ ability to safely travel this path between public lands and facilities, home, school, work, community activities, or recreational opportunities.
Project planners should reevaluate the following considerations:
- This project’s impacts on our community and its recreation-based economy greatly outweigh the proposed mitigation plans. Mitigation planning should be considerably more extensive and should include improving the existing “Safety Path” with the established components of the Cooper Landing Walkable Community Project’s Plan (such as rock cuts along the Safety Path between MP 45 and MP 48 to widen shoulders and improve visibility). Including these and other identified goals from the Cooper Landing Walkable Community Project Plan as additional mitigation measures would help to address the issues created by the Bypass Project.
- Because the Safety Path is entirely on the north side of the Sterling Highway, users of the Safety Path will have to cross or enter the new highway alignment at approximately MP 46. The MP 45-60 Project Design does not appear to address or provide safe crossing at that point or any other for bike/pedestrian traffic and we feel that failing to provide for these uses is negligent and fails to meet transportation agency responsibilities to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems.
- It is imperative that project planners provide safe crossing near Quartz Creek Road for users of the Cooper Landing Safety Path/Our Point of View road which exists entirely on the north side of the existing highway. The MP 45-60 Project design does not appear to address or provide safe crossing of the existing or proposed Sterling Highway for pedestrians traveling from or to Quartz Creek Road and all of the businesses and facilities accessed there. We feel that failing to provide this crossing would be negligence.
- Proposed mitigation measures should be reevaluated to better address user access to the transportation and utility systems in and across the affected Resurrection Pass Trail Conservation System Unit.
- Providing pedestrian walkways on the Snow River bridges on the Seward Highway is not an acceptable mitigation measure for the crossing of Resurrection Pass Trail.
- Mitigation applied to the Snow River bridges creates a connection to a different long-distance trail in the National Trails System in a different community than the one affected by the project but does not adequately address the affected trail or community.
- Construction of pedestrian walkways crossing the Kenai River east of the Resurrection Pass trailhead where only a narrow shoulder on the road serves as pedestrian access and crossing Cooper Creek where not even an adequate shoulder exists for pedestrian access are two examples of mitigation measures that more effectively provide the directly affected community and users access to the transportation and utility systems in and across the affected Resurrection Pass Trail Conservation System Unit.
- Constructing trail segments that connect the affected community of Cooper Landing to the Resurrection Pass Trail and the other surrounding public lands and facilities can be accomplished within the highway right-of-way and is a more appropriate use of mitigation measure opportunities.
- Unless use of the Bypass by truck traffic is required and enforced, the existing roadway will continue to experience the safety issues and dangers to the river that exist today. These issues must be addressed regardless of Bypass construction.
There should be lookout sites and viewpoints established or existing ones enhanced along the existing Sterling Hwy. / town loop as a way to promote the character of the National Scenic Byway.
Thank you for taking my comments into consideration and reevaluating the proposed plan to make sure to that accommodating new travel facilities for motorized traffic does not exclude or come at a cost to established and needed pedestrian and non-motorized facilities or transportation agency responsibilities to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and their integration into our transportation systems.