Those in Alaska are familiar with our two seasons: winter and construction. The State of Alaska Dept. of Transportation and Public Facilities has their hands full.
There is a perverse relationship with shared federal funding for construction of new roads and less so for maintenance. Road maintenance in Alaska is much more challenging than in many places in our country.
Over the years, I’ve seen some opportunities for better communication. Here are some of my efforts to help residents with better road conditions when living in such an environment.
I’ve been living off Chena Hot Springs Road since 1974. A major upgrade was done in 1997-1998, quite a construction and access impact to those who lived and used the road. The Dept. of Transportation hadn’t yet figured out how to communicate with folks, so I created The Unofficial Chena Hot Springs Road Upgrade Homepage to show them how it could be done.
Having spent time serving on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Platting Board and Planning Commission, many construction projects came through us as a part of what was generally a pro forma process. I resolved to learn about the projects, ask lots of questions and make suggestions.
At the time of writing (April 2014), DOT now has open house presentations on upcoming projects and long term planning efforts. While their results might not meet with what I think is best, they are making an effort and do appear to listen.
There still isn’t a road to Nome yet and that’s probably okay (speaking of maintenance), but there is a proposal still to build a road as far as Tanana with a bridge across the Yukon.