More from Cheryl Richardson in an email:
Senator Elect Mark Begich spoke to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce yesterday. Here are his transportation comments as reported by an Anchorage Citizens Coalition member.
There is strong demand for ride sharing programs, with a waiting list of, I believe, 600 people to participate in van pools from the Valley to Anchorage.
There should be funding for a train/rail option to the Valley before more costlier options like the bridge are promoted.
All transportation projects should be determined by local/community support. [emphasis added]
Financing and community support will drive the Knik Arm Bridge. Funding updates are overdue and the bridge will cost $1 billion – with no plan to pay for it. Other problems include opposition from Government Hill, lack of a financial plan and availability of other solutions.
More road building leads to less congestion. He was not joking, and referred to all of those roads he helped to build in Anchorage (including the Dowling Road Extension and the 48th Avenue from Boniface to Bragaw/Elmore through Bicentennial Park that the Mayor renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.)
Sen. Begich was VERY bullish on the need to build the H2H scheme, focusing on making a seamless highway connection from Glenn to the Seward highway. He spent a lot of time on this, and said that it’s a choke point for trucks and commerce from the ports. Is that really true?
He was bullish on the Port of Anchorage, saying it’s happening. He further noted it was vital to U.S. defense/security needs as one of 16 critical defense infrastructure ports. The talking points sounded like the same talking points as former Gov. Sheffield in the talk he gave in November when he pretty much said the port’s expansion is vital to U.S. defense needs.
Personally, I was most concerned about the Mayor’s views about roads = less congestion and his strong support for the H2H project as it is currently envisioned as a major highway project. But the Mayor was a backer of the LRTP that said the same thing, as we all know.
However, as the Mayor said, if there are strong community views shown, the planners should listen and plan accordingly.
Interesting stuff. I have been a strong supporter of all of Begich’s campaigns, and he’s been the best friend in city government Mt. View ever had [he even announced his run for the U.S. Senate here, earlier in the year].
I always find his views to reflect a strange mix of progressive and reactionary ideals. He seemed woefully ill-informed on green design initiatives until sometime in ’06 when Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels took him aside and educated him. Now we are replacing street lights and making several other modifications to cut energy usage. I just wish he would experience a similar epiphany in regards to long term transportation planning and smart growth. I think it will just take more time.