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UAA Providence disappointed in UMed road decision

first_imgAnchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has withdrawn the city’s support for the $20 million dollar Northern Access Project, also called the U-Med District Road. The Department of Transportation says without the municipality’s backing, work on the controversial project that links Elmore and Bragaw will stop.Download AudioBerkowitz stated his position in a letter to the State Commissioner of Transportation on Friday.“We made the decision because in this time of fiscal austerity at the state level, there needs to be a distinction between wants and needs.”Berkowitz is asking the state’s legislature to re-appropriate the leftover $17 million dollars to the Port of Anchorage. Geran Tarr, who represents some of the communities that would have been impacted by the road, says the legislature will have to vote to move the money to a different project. Otherwise the appropriation will stay in place until 2019 then will revert to the general fund.Tarr says she supports the mayor’s decision because he is responding to the community’s concerns about the negative environmental and quality-of-life impacts.“I hope this process encourages people that it can work out. Your voice can be heard. I know that sometimes people just don’t feel that. I hope this part isn’t lost on people. That citizen activism can have an impact on the outcome.”Bill Spindle is vice chancellor of administrative services at the University of Alaska Anchorage, which has been a longtime supporter of the project.“We’ve talked to all the other main organizations in the U-Med District, they’re also disappointed. So, I think you could probably rightly say we all are concerned about what the mayor decided to do.”Providence Hospital supported the road to help emergency vehicles access the area. In a written statement the hospital said they continue to support improved access to the district and will consider additional steps.last_img

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