Two Anchorage Democrats introduced legislation Friday to repeal $20 million in state funds allocated to the planned U-Med/Northern Access Road.
The road would slice through the center of the congested University district in Anchorage.
Representative Andy Josephson, of Anchorage, says this is the second time he has pushed this issue. The first time was on the day the Legislature adjourned last year.
“And nothing about my feelings or my constituents’ feelings have changed since then,” Josephson said.
Since the money was given out last year, though, some factors regarding the project have changed. One factor is an increased price tag going as high as $42 million. Josephson says the second is the state’s changing strategy for spending money.
“Under the guise, or the theme, of the governor’s is that we should finish what we’ve started,” Josephson said. “This program, or this project, is essentially not started. It’s in its engineering phase, its development phase, but there is no road yet.”
Josephson says though some of the money has already been spent on planning, he believes most of the appropriated money is still available and could be returned to the state.
The Municipality of Anchorage remains in favor of the project.
In a statement issued by Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, he says the project is a priority for the city. And he says it would help relieve traffic congestion in the U-Med District.
Sullivan also says the project has been taken through the proper planning processes. Lindsey Whitt, the spokesperson for the City of Anchorage, read the statement on behalf of Mayor Sullivan.
“The Department of Transportation with DOWL engineers went through the very public process, holding meetings with the community councils, public hearings, and received public comment,” Whitt said. “The project is supported by the university and the hospitals in the area. The project will greatly improve the safety for both motorists and pedestrians.”
Representative Josephson says all five of the community councils in the area unanimously oppose the road.
Senator Berta Gardner, of Anchorage, filed similar legislation in the Senate.