Back-to-back accidents on the Glenn Highway. A medevac by helicopter. Prolonged delays. Detours from a major thoroughfare through community roads in Eagle River.

All spell a wake up call for additional commuting options from the Mat-Su Borough– the state’s fastest-growing borough – into Anchorage, said Eagle River Republican Dan Saddler.

Saddler says it’s time to reconsider the Knik Arm project, mothballed by Gov. Bill Walker, who two years ago set aside some projects during some cost-cutting measures.

“My concern, actually, is if we had an alternate transportation corridor such as the Knik Arm Bridge, and if we had a problem with the bridge across the Glenn Highway, everyone who needs to commute in and out of Anchorage could have simply turned around and made a different detour across the (Knik Arm) bridge,” he said.

“I’m very glad no one was hurt in the initial accident, but I do have concerns that traffic being routed through my community -- tens of thousands of cars -- are going through detours in areas they are not familiar with,” he said. “That puts people in my community at risk-- as well as drivers at risk.”

This session, Walker proposed transferring $4.5 million from the Knik Arm project to advance commuter rail options.

Walker put this in the capital budget, which has yet to be fully vetted by either the House or the Senate.

Still, Saddler says he will try to advance discussions on the Knik Arm Bridge -- once known as one of Alaska’s two bridges to nowhere when Congressional earmarks came under heavy scrutiny.

“The best time to build a bridge would have been 10 years ago,” he said. “The second best time is today. The federal government has funding available.

“All it takes is for the governor to give the word and the get-go and we can start construction on something that will put capital jobs in the budget, build new infrastructure for Alaska and provide very necessary transportation options in the Anchorage bowl.”

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