A unique new intersection planned for the nexus of Airport Way, the Richardson Highway, the Steese Expressway and the Fort Wainwright main gate comes before the Planning Commission today for a vote of confidence.
The project “has no peer intersections to analyze for their effectiveness in other communities,” according to a report by Fairbanks North Star Borough transportation planner Don Galligan.
A computer rendering shows as many as six lanes across one road with various forks and turn offs. The project is known as GARS, shorthand for the Gaffney Road, Airport Way, Richardson Highway and Steese Expressway project.
The borough Department of Community Planning is recommending that the Planning Commission approve the $20 million intersection redesign.
Borough Assembly approval will also be needed for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to move forward.
An engineering analysis concluded that the changes would reduce congestion and improve safety. A registered professional engineer in the State of Alaska has signed off on the project. Better air and fewer crashes would result from the intersection’s overhaul, according to a DOT analysis.
Galligan wrote in his report that exceptional signage will be needed.
“Due to the complexity of the intersection, it is very important to ensure that the driver always knows where they are within the intersection and what lane they need for their movement,” reads the transportation planner’s report. “The overhead signage that is included in this design will be critical for wayfinding while negotiating the intersection. This will be true regardless of the weather conditions, light conditions, or in the event of a power outage. This will be the case when the intersection opens, and when it is 20 years old, as it will never be intuitive for people who seldom drive this area, or people new to the community.”