Fairbanks trail advocates, your help is needed.
An effort has been underway for several years to connect the Birch Hill Recreation Area and other trails north and east of the Steese Highway to the multi-use trails on Creamer’s Field Migratory Wildlife Refuge (aka the ADMA Trails). Ultimately, it would also allow connection to the UAF trails and beyond to the Alaska Long Trail system west and south of the Alaska interior. A critical part of this connection is a Steese Expressway underpass. The intent would ultimately be to allow Fairbanks and Fort Wainwright residents quick and safe access to the entire trails system surrounding the Greater Fairbanks Area and beyond.
At its meeting this Thursday, April 27, the Fairbanks Borough Assembly will consider granting local planning approval under a resolution for the Steese Expressway/Johansen Expressway Interchange Project.
STEESE EXPRESSWAY UNDERPASS MANY YEARS OF EFFORT
This interchange project is bigger than just the underpass, but it should include the underpass. Unfortunately, at this point, the underpass is not included in the project paperwork that the State Department of Transportation submitted to the Assembly for the resolution. If the underpass is not included with this project, it will probably be many years, if not decades, before it would be considered again.
Timing is key to this project’s success! Local volunteers have been going through all the proper channels and gotten all the approvals and support resolutions and letters from the correct authorities and agencies, including FAST Planning (the local urban transportation planning group), so it’s unclear why the underpass is not included in the paperwork. However, the volunteers are working with Mayor Bryce Ward and Jackson Fox, executive director of FAST Planning, to submit to the Assembly an amendment to the resolution that will formally include the underpass in this construction project (currently scheduled for 2026).
Bruce Jamieson, one of the volunteers, will be at the meeting to speak in support of the amendment and explain the situation.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP
Please tell the Assembly to amend the current resolution to require that the underpass is included in the project. The current resolution is “Resolution No. 2023-23.” You can find it online HERE.
- Send emails to or call Assembly members to let them know you support the underpass amendment that will be submitted for Resolution No. 2023-23. Find Assembly contact information HERE. (The top link on that page, “Contact the Borough Assembly,” will allow you to send an email to all the Assembly members at once.)
- Testify at the meeting and speak in favor of the underpass amendment to Resolution No. 2023-23. You have three minutes to speak. You can testify by attending the meeting in person or by calling in. Find out how by scrolling down to “How to Provide Testimony” on this PAGE.
PROJECT WILL HELP CONNECT COMMUNITY
This underpass will be used seasonally and year-round by a variety of recreational users under safely controlled conditions, allowing them to avoid this dangerous and complex highway intersection. A 14-year-old cyclist was killed there in 2010 after being struck by a truck that ran a red light. Users will include pedestrians, cyclists, skiers, dog mushers, skijorers, ATVers, and snowmachiners.
This will encourage more people who live or recreate on the east side of the Steese to travel off-highway for recreation and economic activities to areas on the west side of the highway. Long term, it will help to better connect our community.