City Public Works alters recommendation for D St. improvement project

 The history of D street is deceptively complicated, and illustrates the obstacles associated with city planning. (City of Fairbanks)
The history of D street is deceptively complicated, and illustrates the obstacles associated with city planning. (City of Fairbanks) (KTVF)
Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 3:23 PM AKST
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Monday night, the City Department of Public Works discussed development plans for D St. during a City Council work session.

Despite its size, D St. has experienced a relatively tumultuous history of development. In a memorandum, City Public Works Director Jeff Jacobson explains that a temporary construction road called “D Street Extension” was built during the development of Shannon Park and Lazelle Esates.

However, this road had not been built in its dedicated right-of-way. In transportation terms, a right-of-way is a road (or “way”) built over privately owned land. Additionally, the parcel of land on which D St. was constructed had been acquired by Northrim Bank due to financial issues with its previous owner.

Through a subsequent series of transactions, this piece of land became the property of the city. According to the memorandum, however, the unpaved road required constant maintenance due to issues with dust and degradation.

To remediate these issues, City Public Works proposed a project to pave and relocate the street into its designated right-of-way. Shortly thereafter, the city worked on a developer agreement with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), whose proposal for an extension of the public water line to their building would involve similar work in the area.

The agreement, however, was never finalized.

In 2019, City Public Works secured additional capital funds to award the bid for the D St. project. Shorty thereafter, Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) released plans for their Steese Expressway/Johansen Expressway Interchange project, aimed at upgrading that intersection.

These plans revealed that the DOT project would come into close proximity of the city-owned parcel of land in the area and could potentially affect the LDS church.

Given these developments, City Public Works altered their plans for the D St. project. During the City Council work session on Monday, they recommended keeping D St. where it currently is and slightly straightening out the section where it intersects with Joyce Dr..

Both the City Public Works and DOT projects are currently ongoing. In an email, DOT stated that they have not yet selected an alternative for the current intersection at Steese and Johansen and are still doing more research. They expect to announce a preferred alternative in March during a public meeting.

DOT also reminds the public that they accept comments throughout the life of a project up until a contract is bid and construction begins.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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