Letter to the Editor
August 30, 2016
Subject: Comments in Support of the Alaska Department of Transportation Windy Corner Project on the Seward Highway, Milepost 105 to 107
Girdwood 2020 has a long standing task force to promote highway safety from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula. A primary concern is to see the Seward Highway realigned and rehabilitated as a four lane divided highway from Anchorage to the Girdwood turnoff. The estimated daily traffic numbers on average, year-round, is 10,000 vehicles, but on a busy day during the summer, this number can swell to more than 22,000 vehicles.
With shared use including commercial transportation, visitor transportation, commuters, individual visitor traffic, there can be a wide variety of expectations among users. Those of us who use the highway frequently are familiar with particular danger spots – specifically the primary problem area of Mile 105 to 107, the location of Windy Corner.
The dangers of Windy Corner have intensified with the steady growth in use of the area over time. Traffic can often be reduced to a crawl for a multitude of reasons; unorganized parking, pedestrians crossing the highway, or even wildlife viewers in the roadway for that perfect picture. With the human and equipment factors at play, it is incredible there have not been more vehicle/pedestrian incidents.
Alaska DOT/PF has designed an excellent solution to this problem and have presented and discussed this proposed design in numerous public forums. This project will save lives, which is the first objective; it will prevent injury and the economic loss incurred with vehicle accidents. The project will also improve the economics of Seward Highway use, because it will avoid the severe slowdowns that have become so common.
Further benefits to the Windy Corner Project will be improved opportunity to view wildlife and scenery on the uphill and water sides of the highway. Having restroom facilities available will be a further amenity. Impact to wildlife will be minimal and the area will quickly recover from the construction phase of the project. Having a safe viewing area will provide further protection for wildlife and the project design adds further protection from public encroachment onto the railroad tracks. Additionally, the project is designed at minimal cost, even sourcing local materials to save on expenses.
Diana Stone Livingston,
Girdwood 2020 Co-Chair