The state Department of Transportation has announced plans to demolish two Anchorage properties to make way for Knik Arm Bridge construction.
DOT has opened the bid process for the work, which gives the contractor the option of removing the houses to another location.
Shannon McCarthy, a spokesperson for DOT, says the state purchased the two homes more than a year ago. She says the demolition work saves the state money in property management and home repairs.
“There are some issues, there’ve been some attempted break-ins which of course, we discovered right away, and having a vacant house in the neighborhood does affect the safety of the neighborhood. So, we have owned these houses for a while. It makes sense at this time, it is cost effective, because we know we will need this property for the future Crossing.”
An old motel is also slated for demolition. McCarthy says after the work is done, the land will be used for access to the proposed Knik Arm Bridge.
“This is for the cut and cover tunnel that goes underneath Government Hill. It’s an 800 long foot tunnel, and there will be a lid on top of it so it can be reseeded with grass and there will be some park-like amenities on top of that. “
She says the contract for the demolition and removal of the structures has a deadline in mid-November. Leveling and seeding must be complete by June of next year.
But the Government Hill Community Council opposes the demolition. Stephanie Kesler, president of the community council says the two homes could be used as rentals
In the last days of the legislative session, the Knik Arm Bridge project was handed over to the state DOT, taking authority for building away from the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority, or KABATA. McCarthy, a former KABATA employee, says federal funds needed to begin construction are not in place yet, but the legislature’s change is bringing the bridge a step closer.
“The state legislature also passed the $55 million capital increment for the project and they passed operating funds as well for the project. So they solidified the financial plan and they began funding. So I think it was really a huge step forward in seeing the bridge built.”
The bill transferring the Knik Arm Bridge project to DOT also forbids the state from selling bonds to support the project before federal highway funds are secured to pay for at least 30 percent of the costs.