Many want to make Anchorage a place where people can live, work and play. Professional transportation consultant Mark Fenton said that starts with making sure neighborhoods are connected.

He was at the Active Transportation Summit to share his knowledge with community partners. They hit the streets of a Spenard neighborhood to see what improvements could be made.

“The sidewalk condition as we came out of the building was in tough shape,” he said to the group.

Fenton said building environments that make it easier for people to walk and bike can also improve the overall health of the community by keeping people active.

“The air is cleaner, we have less traffic congestion, but local economies are better,” he said. “Neighborhood stores do better, downtowns are more vibrant economically and the population is healthier and lives longer.”

Fenton said Anchorage is on the right path. Our city has a good trail system but there are some connection problems staff at Alaska Trails have been trying to fix.

“Often you find yourself not able to get to your destination if you work downtown or wherever,” executive director Steve Cleary explained. “The on-street facilities, the bike lanes are improving but we need more of those to make better connections to make it safer for everyone.”

Fenton took the group for a short walk and they pointed out areas that couple use a few upgrades: More marked cross walks and shelters at bus stops.

“We noticed the traffic on Spenard was pretty fast and that’s challenging for a pedestrian,” Fenton said. “At the same time token we’re happy with the quality of sidewalks on Spenard and Northwood.”

Fenton will also meet with local leaders to talk about how to adapt policies and cut through red tape to get the infrastructure needed for the community to grow. He said all the changes will encourage even more people to get outside to see what Anchorage has to offer.

KTVA 11’s Heather Hintze can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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