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Posts Tagged ‘Alaska DOT’

Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition poses with one of the Bicycle Friendly Community signs Sitka will be hanging around town. Doug is in the bike shelter at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) At Kaník Hít Community Health building in Sitka. SEARHC's Sitka Campus has a Bicycle Friendly Business designation.

Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition poses with one of the Bicycle Friendly Community signs from 2012. Doug is in the bike shelter at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) At Kaník Hít Community Health building in Sitka. SEARHC’s Sitka Campus earned a Bicycle Friendly Business designation in 2011.

BFCSitkaLogoThe 2016 application is in. On Thursday, Feb. 11, Sitka’s renewal application for another Bicycle Friendly Community designation was submitted to the League of American Bicyclists. The deadline was Feb. 11.

Now comes the waiting part. We probably won’t hear back on whether or not we maintained our current bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community status (or improved our status) until May. The League of American Bicyclists typically announces its selections as part of its kick-off to National Bike Month (the month of May). The program has four levels (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze), plus there is an Honorable Mention designation for communities that aren’t quite to the level of the other Bicycle Friendly Communities.

Sitka was Alaska’s first community to win a Bicycle Friendly Community award (bronze in 2008), and the first to earn a renewal of its status (bronze in 2012). Since Sitka became the first Alaska community to win the honor, two others have joined us (Anchorage, which recently upgraded from a bronze to silver designation, and Juneau, which holds a bronze designation).

The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition thanks the many people who helped us compile our applications over the years, including Lynne Brandon (formerly with the City and Borough of Sitka Department of Parks and Recreation and now with Sitka Trail Works Inc.); city planner Michael Scarcelli; city engineer Dave Longtin; Bob Laurie, Marie Heidemann and Dave Luchinetti with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities; Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell (for the proclamation supporting our bid and leading a couple of community cycling events); Matthew Turner (who wrote our original application in 2008); Doug Osborne; the Sitka Police Department; former Sitka Trail Works director Deborah Lyons; and others (sorry if we missed thanking you). This year’s application was written by Charles Bingham, who also wrote the 2012 renewal application. A copy of our application is posted below as a PDF file.

• 2016 Sitka renewal application for Bicycle Friendly Community

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The application is in.

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, Sitka’s renewal application for another Bicycle Friendly Community designation was submitted to the League of American Bicyclists. That was two days before the Feb. 17 deadline.

Now comes the waiting part. We probably won’t hear back on whether or not we maintained our current bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community status (or improved our status) until May. The League of American Bicyclists typically announces its selections as part of its kick-off to National Bike Month (the month of May). The program has four levels (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze), plus there is an Honorable Mention designation for communities that aren’t quite to the level of the other Bicycle Friendly Communities.

The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition thanks the many people who helped us compile our application, including Lynne Brandon (McGowan) with the City and Borough of Sitka Department of Parks and Recreation; Bob Laurie, Marie Heidemann and Dave Luchinetti with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities; Sitka Mayor Cheryl Westover (for the proclamation supporting our bid); Matthew Turner (who wrote our original application in 2008); Doug Osborne; the Sitka Police Department and others (sorry if we missed thanking you). This year’s application was written by Charles Bingham. A copy of our application is posted below as a PDF file.

• 2012 Sitka renewal application for Bicycle Friendly Community

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Daily Sitka Sentinel newspaper photographer James Poulson commutes by bike between photo assignments on Oct. 1, 2011.

Daily Sitka Sentinel newspaper photographer James Poulson commutes by bike between photo assignments on Oct. 1, 2011.

Sitka already was Alaska’s leading bike-to-work community, but the number of bike commuters took a big jump this past year.

According to the 2006-10 five-year American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and released last week, Sitka had 4.9 percent of its workers age 16 and older commute by bike. That is Alaska’s highest percentage of bike commuters for any community with more than 644 people. The American Community Survey estimated Sitka’s population at 8,894, with 4,753 workers age 16 or older and 233 bike commuters. Sitka also had a pedestrian commuter rate of 11.3 percent, giving Sitka 16.1 percent of its population who use non-motorized transportation to get to work (no stats were available for people who commute by kayak).

In the 2005-09 American Community Survey, Sitka had 2.87 percent of its workers commute by bike. That was the highest percentage for any Alaska community with more than 752 residents. The American Community Survey estimated Sitka’s population at 8,747, with 4,705 workers and 135 bike commuters.

Sitka’s 4.9 percent bike commuter rate is five times the state’s average of 0.98 percent, and nearly 10 times the national average of 0.51 percent. Sitka also ranks well ahead of Alaska’s other two Bicycle Friendly CommunitiesJuneau with 1.95 percent (331 bike commuters out of a population of 30,975 and 16,967 workers) and Anchorage with 1.04 percent (1,514 bike commuters out of a population of 284, 267 and 146,016 workers). The American Community Survey estimates Alaska has 3,269 bike commuters out of a population of 691,189 and 334,044 workers.

Bob Laurie, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, has compiled lists the past two years ranking communities around the state. In both lists, Sitka ranked 10th overall in Alaska. But all of the communities ahead of Sitka were much smaller. Bob cautions people that these numbers are estimates and Sitka’s margin of error in this survey is 50 percent (the bigger the population, the lower the margin of error). That means Sitka’s real number of bike commuters could be as low as 116 (2.44 percent) or as high as 350 (7.36 percent). He said the margin of error for the smaller communities can be as high as 100 percent due to the extremely small sample sizes.

“This is the second analysis of Alaska places that I’ve done using the ACS 5-yr data,” Bob said. “I haven’t sat down yet to look at them side-by-side.  One thing that does jump out is the general increase in the level of biking statewide, Sitka being a prime example: growing by about 100 people/day over last year. Part of the increase, I think, can be attributed to the fact that each year the U.S. Census Bureau conducts the survey, they get more data and are better able to refine their numbers. We also are seeing more people choose to bike or walk as gas prices, and the costs of living in general, grow higher. People not only are choosing modes such as biking and walking, but also are moving to locations closer to work so that biking and walking are more do-able.”

• 2006-10 American Community Survey bike commuter numbers for select Alaska communities

• 2005-09 American Community Survey bike commuter numbers for select Alaska communities

• Commuting in the United States: 2009; national commuting info from the American Community Survey

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The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Meeting topics include a final review of our renewal application for the Bicycle Friendly Community designation before it is submitted to the League of American Bicyclists in mid-February; a recap of the Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration held on on Saturday, Jan. 28, at Harrigan Centennial Hall and the Crescent Harbor shelter; a recap of the state’s Jan. 18 public meeting about the planned Halibut Point Road construction project; getting started on planning for National Bike Month events in May; our new bike safety media campaign; and other items.

In May 2008, Sitka became the first community in Alaska to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists. Since Sitka received its bronze level BFC award, good for four years, Anchorage and Juneau also have received bronze awards. Several businesses in Alaska, including the Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) have earned Bicycle Friendly Business designations from the League of American Bicyclists.

To learn more about our application process and what we need to be renewed as a Bicycle Friendly Community, please attend the meeting and/or watch this site. For more information, contact Doug Osborne at 966-8734 or doug.osborne@searhc.org, or contact Charles Bingham at 738-8875 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com.

• Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition meeting flier (feel free to print and post around town)

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The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities will host a public meeting from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at Harrigan Centennial Hall to discuss a proposed project on Halibut Point Road.

According to the public notice from DOT, the original project plan was completed in August 2011. But recently concerns have been raised by Sitka resident Harvey Brandt and others about whether or not there are adequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities along the road. DOT said it already has made some revisions to its plan by adding pedestrian facilities to the Granite Creek and No Name Creek bridges, but it also said funds were limited for this project and some bike/walk concerns might not be addressed until a future project.

The following is part of an e-mail from DOT SE Region Engineering Manager Keith Karpstein (465-1796).

Thank you all for your comments related to the proposed improvements planned for Halibut Point Road (HPR). I apologize for the late response, but it has taken me longer than expected to track down the necessary information in order to respond.

Most of your comments expressed concerns regarding the lack of pedestrian facilities along HPR from SeaMart to the Starrigaven Campground. Although we do recognize the need for these facilities, these improvements are not included in the scope of work for the upcoming project scheduled to begin construction in the summer of 2012. We have two things to contend with, budget and schedule. The funding currently programmed for this project does not include those improvements and additional funding would have to be secured. As for timing, including those improvements at this time would require that we develop a preliminary design and complete a new environmental document, which may take up to one year. Our construction funding must be obligated by the end of this federal fiscal year, which requires us to have the project ready to advertise by the end of August. If we are not able to obligate the construction funding by that time, we are at risk of losing the funds to another project that is “shovel” ready. That is not a risk we are willing to take for the community, or region as a whole. We are, however, able to include pedestrian facilities across Granite Creek and No Name Creek bridges to accommodate future pedestrian facilities along the road.

In addition, since we do recognize the need for pedestrian facilities along HPR, we are developing a project scope and cost estimates that could assist in a future project nomination. A project of this type would have our support.

Some commenters also expressed maintenance concerns along Halibut Point road; this project includes improvements to address those concerns. These improvements include paving beneath the guardrail to minimize vegetation growth; providing pavement aprons at all driveways to minimize gravel track-out onto the shoulder; replacing guardrail to meet current standards; installing safety end terminals on all guardrail ends where required; and repairing the subgrade at several locations where the pavement has settled. Drainage improvements are also included within the scope of the upcoming project.

To clarify this information and to answer any questions you have, I am planning on having a public workshop on January 18, 2011 at Centennial Hall from 5 pm to 8 pm. This is a great opportunity for us to hear from all of you who drive, bike, and walk this road every day. I look forward to meeting you and working with you on our upcoming projects.

The project will start at the roundabout in downtown Sitka and follow 7.3 miles of Halibut Point Road to the end of existing pavement at Starrigavan Bay Campground. The plan is to repave the road, while also repairing or replacing existing sidewalks, culverts, storm drains, guardrail, and other roadside features. It also will replace the Granite Creek and No Name Creek bridges, and it will add or relocate bus pullouts.

The meeting will be in an open house format, with the first part used to give people time to find out more about the project by looking at charts and maps. The main part of the meeting will start after people have had time to review the displays. DOT staff will be available to discuss the project, answer questions and take public/written comments.

• Public notice about Halibut Point Road improvements workshop on Jan. 18

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Bicyclists and walkers enjoy trips along Halibut Point Road because of the scenic views, such as this fishing boat and some of Sitka's barrier islands.

Bicyclists and walkers enjoy trips along Halibut Point Road because of the scenic views, such as this fishing boat and some of Sitka's barrier islands.

During the Nov. 17, 2011, meeting of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition, Sitka resident Harvey Brandt made a presentation about an upcoming state Department of Transportation project to repave Halibut Point Road.

Included in Harvey’s presentation was a letter he wrote to engineering manager Keith Karpstein (a former Sitka resident) who is the project manager. In the letter, Harvey made a plea for better bicycle and walking sidepaths along HPR, since the road receives a lot of use by cyclists and walkers. He also presented a letter to Sitka residents encouraging them to contact Karpstein and the Alaska DOT to put the pressure on them to make sure the project includes better walking and biking infrastructure.

According to Marie Heidemann, the Southeast Regional Non-Motorized Planner for DOT, the project is almost finalized and she isn’t sure how many changes can be made. If people are going to contact DOT about this road, please do so now (supposedly there is a staff meeting on Monday, Nov. 28, when this project will be discussed).

During the Nov. 17 Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition meeting we mentioned several issues with the road, such as kids from Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary crossing HPR at Peterson to get to the McDonald’s, narrow and unmaintained road shoulders, no bike lanes on the bridges, etc. The more personal-experience issues you can mention about biking and walking on HPR the better.

Here is Harvey’s letter to Sitka residents about the project.

Sitkans,

Next summer a $17 million improvement project is scheduled for Halibut Point Road – Two new bridges, paving, etc. is currently scheduled for 2012.

HPR is far more than a state highway.  It is a busy bicycle and pedestrian traffic corridor.   You have probably noticed mothers with babies, kids and their beach toys (near Sandy Beach) walking & dodging cars on this busy road.   This pedestrian/bicycle traffic is busier in the summer, but there are still walkers/bikers on those dark winter days all along this road from  SeaMart to the Ferry Terminal.  

What Can Be Done to Improve the Current HP Highway?

Here are some possibilities that would make a difference:

  1. Do a pedestrian traffic survey of HPR
  2. Widen the paved area of the  highway (on both sides) at least 3 feet to create a safer walkway/bicycling zone.  If necessary – move guard rails out a few feet to allow for this widening of paved area of road.
  3. Pave underneath guard rails so we don’t have a hedge of alders, terrace of sand that pools water on the highway
  4. CONSTRUCT a sidewalk/bike path (similar to Sawmill Crk)  from Pioneer Park to Sandy Beach – AND, make specific plans to continue  this sidewalk/bikeway path to HP Rec Area in the future
  5. Safe pedestrian bridges on BOTH sides of BOTH new bridges.
  6. Pave AND maintain highway to driveway transitions so bicyclers and walkers can travel safely past driveways – (no chuckholes).

If you agree please include these six points in a letter or e-mail to:

Keith Karpstein, P. E.

Engineering Manager

State of Alaska DOT & PF,

SE Region

6860 Glacier Hwy

Juneau, AK  99801-7999

907.465.1796

775.772.9742

keith.karpstein@alaska.gov

A more family-friendly, pedestrian/biker-friendly HPR would be energy-efficient, safer and an economic asset for Sitka.   Please contact  Keith Karpstein if you wish to express your support for these improvements.

Here are the meeting minutes from the Nov. 17, meeting of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition and Harvey’s three handouts.

• Minutes from the Nov. 17, 2011, Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition meeting

• Harvey Brandt’s letter to Sitka residents about the Halibut Point Road project

• Harvey Brandt’s letter to Keith Karpstein of the Alaska DOT about the project

• Harvey Brandt’s list of contacts and notes about the Halibut Point Road project

 

 

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