Frustration over ASD bus barn plan doesn't stop
Some Anchorage residents remain frustrated over the proposed location of an Anchorage School District bus barn.
Stuckagain Heights neighbors were recently pleased to learn that the facility for ASD school buses would not be located near them. The move would have resulted in buses driving on the only road in and out of the area, which locals feared would snarl traffic for a nearby fire station that services the area.
Now, some U-Med Gateway neighbors say they don't want the proposed bus barn near them. On Monday night the Muni Planning and Zoning Commission accepted a recommendation to move the bus barn next to the Anchorage Police Department's headquarters at Elmore and Tudor roads, just across the street from where the bus barn is now.
"I wake up with diesel fumes in my bedroom," said Barbara Garner, with the University Area Community Council.
Garner says people around the area of Folker Park have suffered for years from bus barn diesel fumes; with idling buses less than a mile away. Garner say the muni and ASD were helpful a while back but now says air quality testing isn't done here anymore. Garner says the problem is especially bad when the wind doesn't blow fumes away on cold days.
"If you've ever breathed diesel fumes you know how awful it is," Garner said. "It makes you nauseous; I have neighbors who vomit."
Muni planners heard Garner testify at the local Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Monday night and say neighbors have legitimate concerns. Planning Director Michelle McNulty says the project is subject to a conditional use permit.
"As part of that, one of the requirements is that the applicants are going to have to look at air quality," said McNulty.
McNulty also says the muni is confident moving forward with the bus barn plans because the district is making changes to its buses.
Heather Philp, tASD's transportation supervisor, says the district has 44 new buses that have what's described as an oversized muffler that burns off particulate matter before it goes into the air. Philp says ASD is getting eight more of these buses for the fleet of 75 buses that run each day. The district has about 108 buses in all.
McNulty says the Anchorage Assembly will need to give final approval on the bus barn location and there will be public hearings prior the expected meeting in February. She says if the assembly does not approve the site, the muni will have to go back and re-evaluate other possible bus barn locations.
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