Letters to the Editor
To the editor,
A few years ago I began to spend a little more time around Crested Butte, Col. where my daughter lives, and I saw an idea that I knew would work for Girdwood. In Col., as in Alaska, it is the state law that pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks, yet cars continued to fly through crosswalks on the Alyeska Highway, ignoring pedestrians.
Slowing traffic on the Alyeska Highway has been a challenge for over 40 years. The wide, straight road was designed after the earthquake as 45 mile-per-hour road, and the natural speed travelled in the 1970’s was always 45 or a little higher.
The loss of 3 local children, Kathy Maule in 1977 and the Gerrish brothers in 1980, gave impetus to the construction of the bike path, which got the pedestrians off the highway, and the 30 mph speed limit was instituted a couple of years later. Enforcement has continued to be a problem because the posted speed limit is so at-odds with the road design.
At Hightower Rd. and at Timberline Dr., a lot of foot traffic needed to cross – and crosswalks were painted on the road at that time, but cars continued to ignore pedestrians, in spite of signs being added beside the road. A couple of years ago folks took matters into their own hands and placed red flags at the crosswalks to warn cars to stop for pedestrians, but there had to be a better way.
Crested Butte puts the crosswalk signs in the road, at every crosswalk, and pedestrians are free to cross at their leisure. This makes downtown Crested Butte a walker’s paradise. I took a picture of one of the signs and showed it to Municipal Liaison to Girdwood Kyle Kelley. We got the OK from DOT to install them. When the signs arrived, I watched traffic closely and was amazed to see how well they worked. The sign in the road created enough of a visual obstruction that people slowed down and began to stop for pedestrians. Because I often cross at Timberline, I was especially impressed by how well they worked there.
One of the four we installed got creamed beyond repair one night in July, and two of the remaining three were apparently stolen a few days later, which was very disheartening. If anyone has any information about the missing signs (which aren’t cheap), it would be great if we could get them back. They really work.
It’s been a couple of generations now since we all had our hearts ripped out when the Gerrish boys were killed. Time enough for most to forget, or never know, what happened there, just down the hill from Timberline. Sure, having some signs in the highway is something new, and takes some getting used to, but the increase in pedestrian safety has to be worth it.
Recently all residents and property owners of Hope and Sunrise received a letter postmarked August 16, 2017 and mailed from Hope. The letter states to respond before 8/30/2017.
It goes on to say the results will be used “in the public community planning meeting Sat. Sept. 9 10 a.m. to noon in Hope Social Hall. An Anchorage consulting firm will feature “audience response technology.”
For a return address the envelope is labeled Hope & Sunrise Survey P.O. Box 89 Hope, AK 99605.
I knew immediately this was the Hope Chamber of Commerce. As a founding member, I picked the Box number in 1989 when it was formed. I resigned from the Chamber years ago.
The survey is to everyone in Hope, with our parcel numbers on the form and leading, personal questions about income and opinions asked.
Why is the Chamber of Commerce in the community planning business? The Chamber of Commerce is not a governing body. This action is quite inappropriate. Even a governing body should not be prying into our lives.
The Survey must be in response to the front page fiasco when local government tried to limit tourism by putting No Camping signs on the flats a few months ago. The community rejected this by a public vote at a Hope Incorporated meeting.
Our community has healed from the Flats fiasco. We are a community again.
People are trying to structure our lives by getting personal information and dividing the community. Whether the majority want to “make Hope great again” or not, this attempt to “buttonhole” us is very divisive. I don’t want my life planned.
If anyone wants to read this “survey,” I have it posted at my gift shop.
Do we need a sheetcaking party over this?