PALMER — The summer of construction in the Mat-Su Valley will include an extension of Seward-Meridian Parkway to Seldon Road, among other road paving that will take place around Mat-Su Borough School District Schools. At the Tuesday joint meeting of the Assembly and School Board, Borough Public Works Director Terry Dolan updated the upcoming projects around schools.
Dolan reported that the only borough project around school buildings this summer will be the paving of Alix Drive near Redington Jr. Sr. High School will be paved from Knik Knack Mud Shack Road to Carmel Road. The road will be a 20-foot wide mat with two foot shoulders.
“We actually received a lot of complaints about school traffic creating dust when it turned off of Carmel which is paved and onto Knick Knack Mud Shack Road and that’s what really drove the RSA board to agree to the project to pave Knick Knack Mud Schack,” said Dolan.
School Board President Ole Larson asked Dolan about improvements for pedestrian access and vehicular traffic around Career Tech High School and Teeland Middle School. Dolan noted that the state of Alaska will be paving Seward Meridian Parkway in front of those schools this summer. In recent years, Tait Drive and other residential roads in the area have been paved to improve traffic flow, but did not solve the problem.
“That essentially wll connect those schools all the way to the Parks Highway and the Palmer-Wasilla Highway. Most of the traffic comes into those schools off of Seldon and the traffic is absolutely horrendous in there,” said Dolan. “There is better traffic flow in there now than there was in the past but the problem won’t be solved until Seward-Meridian is extended.”
Dolan also pointed out seven different schools that could see improvements on their Safe Routes to School plan. Many of the plans to improve access come from matching bond package funds from the state from Communication Transportation Program funding that was provided by the Federal government. Dolan said he would begin asking core area Road Service Areas to assist in bonding Safe Routes to Schools projects in rural areas of the Valley.
“I think it’s very likely that you’ll see the state go through the design processes and prepare to execute those in subsequent years,” said Dolan. “Executing Federal money is far more complicated than executing boro money and so the state’s processes to do that take more time than our processes do but you’ll see those projects I think come to fruition in a couple of years.”
Dolan also said that in the past, the borough has done a poor job of planning for adequate access around schools as they are built, and said that bond packages for lighting and street improvements around schools should be offered as new schools are built in the future. Mayor Vern Halter was happy to see the extension of Seward-Meridian Parkway allowing safer access to schools in the Valley.
“That’s a big step forward for the soa to get that road in front of those schools,” said Halter.