Abbott Road Rehabilitation

Alaska Project No. Z539420000 Federal Project No. 0506003

FAQ's


Based on questions and comments being received about this project we have developed some answers to your frequently asked questions.


Why does Abbot Road Need Widening?

Why not widen Abbott Road to four lanes with a median, or five lanes now?

How much will this project cost?

How is the project funded?

What is the crash history on this part of Abbott Road?

What percentage of the traffic accidents involve teenage drivers?

What does a 3R scope entail?

How will this project improve safety on Abbott Road?

Why aren't there additional improvements being made at the Abbott Road and Birch Road intersection?

Why not add a trail on the south side of Abbott Road too?

What are you doing for the cyclist and pedestrians on this project?

Why doesn't this project include dedicated bike lanes or a separated multi-use pathway?

Why do the trees and vegetation have to be cleared beyond where it is now?

Why won't this project include trees and landscaping to be installed?

How will this project help congestion for the morning and afternoon commutes?

Why won't lighting be added along the whole corridor?

What is happening to the utilities along the project corridor?

When is Elmore Road going to be punched through to connect between Abbott and O'Malley?

Won't some people use the middle lane as a passing lane instead of a turning lane?

When will this project be under construction?

How long will construction take?

Will there be overlap with the O"Malley Road Project construction seasons?

Will there be work completed during the night?

Will there be noise impacts from construction?

What improvements for crossing Abbott Road at the schools will be done?

Why won't there be a pedestrian tunnel or overpass near Trailside Elementary to cross Abbott Road as part of this project?

Will this project include noise walls?

Was consideration given to the Anchorage Bicycle Plan? Or the Hillside District Plan?

Will the drainage and sight problems at Carlson Road and Abbott Road be fixed?

Will this project add bus stops along Abbott Road?

 

 

 

 

Why does Abbott Road need widening?


This section of Abbott Road has a high level of congestion, with drivers experiencing delays and long queues during morning and evening commutes. Crash rate analysis shows a portion of this Abbott Road project has one of the highest crash rates of any Hillside roadway. The purpose of the proposed project is to extend the service life of the roadway, enhance safety, and improve traffic flow.


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Why not widen Abbott Road to four lanes with a median, or five lanes now?


The current plan to widen to three lanes allows the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) to improve the road’s safety and functionality while minimizing schedules, costs, environmental and community impacts. After considering the planning and needs of the transportation system, traffic projections, safety analyses, and public input, DOT&PF believes that widening to three lanes will best serve the public interest.


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How much will this project cost?

The project is estimated to cost $20 to $30 Million, which includes all phases (Design through Construction).


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How is this project funded?


This project is anticipated to be funded through Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and State of Alaska funds. The federally recognized Metropolitan Planning Organization. AMATS was created as a multiagency team that works together to plan and fund the transportation system in the Anchorage Bowl and Chugiak-Eagle River areas when federal funds are being used. For more information on AMATS visit their website.


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What is the crash history on this part of Abbott Road?


233 total crashes are recorded in the DOT&PF’s crash database between 1999 and 2008. This includes 1 fatality, 5 major injuries, and 103 minor injuries. 38.6% of all crashes were rear-enders. This stretch of road ranks in the median of severe (fatal and major injury) accident segments within the Central Region of Alaska. You can view more of the data related to crashes here.


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What percentage of the traffic accidents involve teenage drivers?


53% of all crashes on Abbott from Lake Otis to Birch involved at least one driver aged 14-19. Nationwide statistics show that drivers 19 and under account for 4.9% of all licensed drivers, and were involved in 12.2 % of all crashes (according to the 2009 National Safety Council study). The increased number of crashes involving young drivers on this stretch of road is likely due to Service High School being located within the project area. As a result young drivers make up a much higher percentage of all licensed drivers on Abbott Road.


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What does a 3R scope entail?


3R stands for Resurfacing, Restoration and Rehabilitation. The primary purposes of a 3R project is to increase safety, improve the riding surface, and enhance operating conditions. These projects preserve and extend the service life of existing roadways, but safety is their essential element. They are developed and designed in a manner that identifies and incorporates cost-effective safety improvements, based on recorded crash history.


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How will this project improve safety on Abbott Road?


This project will improve sight distance, signing, widen shoulders, and include two-way-left-turn-lane (TWLTL), and a dedicated right turn pocket. Flattening of some of the hills (crest vertical curves) will also improve safety and driving comfort.


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Why aren’t there additional improvements being made at the Abbott Rd and Birch Road intersection?


In addition to the Abbott Road project, the DOT&PF conducted an intersection study of Abbott Road and Birch Road as part of the AMATS: South Anchorage Hillside Intersection Study Project. The study investigated five alternatives for the Abbott Road and Birch Road intersection and recommended the Eastbound Right Turn Lane alternative. The Eastbound Right Turn Lane alternative analysis predicts a decrease in both crashes and intersection delay. This alternative also has the lowest cost, provides the highest benefit cost value and best addresses the need of the intersection. If you have additional questions regarding the Hillside Intersection study, please contact Kevin Jackson at 907-269-0641 or kevin.jackson@alaska.gov.

As a result of DOT&PF’s analyses we are proposing to install an eastbound right turn lane at the intersection of Abbott and Birch.


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Why not add a trail on the south side of Abbott Road too?


Construction of a pathway on Abbott Road (Lake Otis to Hillside Drive) is ranked 53rd out of 319 projects on the AMATS Anchorage Pedestrian Plan Project Priority List. The existing Right-of-Way width is approximately 50’ from the centerline from Elmore Road to Birch Road. In order to add a trail on the south side, it would take an additional 15-25 feet of Right-of-Way, beyond what is already required for widening, to be purchased along the south side of Abbott Road – drastically impacting property owners and increasing costs significantly. It would also delay the project due to additional environmental impacts outside of the existing roadway.

Paved shoulders will be widened to 6 feet throughout the project area, which will accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians and be consistent with the MOA’s Anchorage Bicycle Plan which identifies a paved shoulder bikeway be constructed on Abbott Road.


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What are you doing for the cyclists and pedestrians on this project?


The shoulders on both sides of the road will be widened to 6 feet to accommodate cyclists. The existing pathway on the north side of Abbott Road will be resurfaced as well, to improve rideability. The existing pathway is used as a neighborhood route to both Trailside Elementary School and Service High School.


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Why doesn’t this project include dedicated bike lanes or a separated multi-use pathway?


The MOA’s Anchorage Bicycle Plan has identified this section of Abbott Road as a “paved shoulder bikeway”, meaning that bicyclists and pedestrians are intended to use the roadway shoulders for travel.

Areas without separated, multi-use pathways include the entire south side of Abbott Road and the north side of Abbott Road east of Trailside Elementary School. Additional pathway connections are not within the scope of this project for many reasons, the most prominent being a lack of Right-of-Way (school/park property would need to be acquired, which carries significant implications).

The MOA’s Non-Motorized Transportation Coordinator and DOT&PF’s Traffic Engineer both support the Anchorage Bicycle Plan’s identification as a “paved shoulder bikeway” until the connection of multi-use pathways are constructed.


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Why do the trees and vegetation have to be cleared beyond where it is now?


Trees are cleared for many reasons on projects: safety for errant vehicles, to help mitigate accidents with moose, and to provide adequate sight distance for drivers on the road and those trying to enter the roadway. Space is also needed to create ditches for drainage, to widen roadways, and for placement of utilities. Trees will be cleared for many of these reasons, to different degrees, throughout the project.

There were 27 moose accidents from 2000 through 2009 along Abbott Road, and 74% of those crashes occurred between Elmore and Lake Otis. The moose vehicle accidents on this section of roadway account for 10% of the accidents on the road (which is almost double the statewide average). The moose/vehicle accident rate, for the section of Abbott Road between Lake Otis Parkway and Elmore Road, is above the States’ 75th percentile (based on the 1995 study, Moose-Vehicle Accidents on Alaska’s Rural Roads) for accidents related to moose on roadways. It is Central Region DOT&PF’s practice to provide a moose warning sign plan and clear vegetation to improve visibility and deter moose browsing where feasible. These treatments are the best-practice recommendation of the 1995 study.


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Why won't this project include trees and landscaping to be installed?


Streetscape amenities are minimal for the project. Generally the pathway is separated by a vegetative buffer from the roadway. In areas where separation is constrained, hardscape elements such as patterned concrete are implemented to separate pathway from the roadway. Existing trees within the clear zone, or recoverable area for errant vehicles, will be selectively removed to improve safety – by reducing the risks of direct collision and attracting moose. Additional clearing is to improve sight triangles. All disturbed areas will be revegetated in accordance with the Alaska Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (APDES) and the Alaska Construction General Permit (CGP).


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How will this project help congestion for the morning and afternoon commutes?


The proposed design will improve travel conditions and access along Abbott Road by providing dedicated lane space for turning vehicles. The center two-way-left-turn-lane should remove left turning vehicles from the traffic flow. There will also be a dedicated right-turn lane onto Birch Road, to decrease congestion by removing slowing vehicles from the thru lane. Removing turning vehicles from thru-traffic lanes helps prevent backups, improves flow, and reduces travel times. Congestion will still occur, but improvement over the existing conditions is expected to occur.


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Why won’t lighting be added along the whole corridor?


Consideration must be made when to light a roadway since roadway lighting is expensive to install, operate, and maintain and has both positive and negative effects on the community and traveling public. For these reasons Central Region DOT&PF has developed policy on when roadways may be considered for roadway lighting. This includes considerations for roadway character, historic night-time crashes, intersections, tunnels/tubes, schools, crosswalks, and emergency services.

Abbott Road does not meet the thresholds of DOT&PF’s lighting policy to consider continuous lighting of the corridor within the project area. Signalization lighting and associated approach lighting were the only lights warranted. There is additional lighting along the corridor on the utility poles. The lighting will be removed when the overhead utilities are relocated underground and done so in accordance with the Central Region policy on roadway lighting.


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What is happening to the utilities along the project corridor?


In Phase II, the project will be relocating utilities as needed. The overhead utilities will be moving underground into a join utility trench, most notably along the south side of Abbott Road from Elmore Road to Birch Road.


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When is Elmore Road going to be punched through to connect between Abbott and O’Malley?


The priorities for federally funded road improvements in Anchorage are set by AMATS. Currently, the extension of Elmore from Abbott to O’Malley is not a priority of AMATS and is listed as an illustrative project in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, meaning that it is not expected to be constructed before the year 2035. The municipality may seek state funds through the Capital Budget to begin analysis or design, but no funding is identified at this time.


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Won’t some people use the middle lane as a passing lane instead of a turning lane?


The design of the two-way-left-turn-lane (TWLTL) will include flush medians in key areas to minimize the use of the center lane for passing. The corridor will also be signed and striped to indicate the legal use of the TWLTL. The Anchorage Police Department will be responsible for patrolling this roadway and enforcing driving regulations.


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When will this project be under construction?


The project will be constructed in two phases. Phase I, which extends from Lake Otis Parkway to Jupiter Drive was constructed during the summer of 2016. Phase II, which extends from Elmore Road to Birch Road is scheduled to begin construction in summer of 2018. The Phase II date is dependent upon funding, acquiring property, obtaining permits, and other items that may delay the construction date.


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How long will construction take?


Each phase of construction is expected to last one year.


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Will there be overlap with the O’Malley Road Project construction seasons?


At this point, DOT&PF cannot guarantee that there will not be any overlap. However, it is extremely unlikely that significant overlap will occur.


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Will there be work completed during the night?


Traffic volumes are at their lowest at night, which makes it the best time to perform certain kinds of work, especially if the road needs to be temporarily closed. The allowance of a nighttime construction schedule is determined in the Design phase. Use of this schedule is largely up to the Contractor, but residents should expect night work to occur at various times throughout the construction seasons. The Contractor will be required to obey local ordinances and DOT&PF specifications regarding noise levels and allowable work schedules.


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Will there be noise impacts from construction?


Noise impacts during construction may be caused by equipment operation, power tools or construction personnel. These impacts can be mitigated by maintaining equipment noise control devices and scheduling construction activities around sensitive timeframes. In order to minimize traffic impacts, some construction may take place at night, requiring a noise permit from the MOA.


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What improvements for crossing Abbott Road at the schools will be done?


The DOT&PF in cooperation with the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) and Anchorage School District (ASD) have determined that a designated crossing would conflict with the heaviest turning traffic and thus would pose an unacceptable risk to the students of Service High School as well as Trail Side Elementary. The most feasible solution is not consistent with adopted traffic control guidelines for a 20-mph school zone.

This finding can be reevaluated if attendance boundaries or walking route plans change.


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Why won’t there be a pedestrian tunnel or overpass near Trailside Elementary to cross Abbott Road as part of this project?


AMATS has not identified a project for a crossing for Abbott Road at this location (see AMATS Anchorage Pedestrian Plan). This plan identifies and ranks projects, among other things, throughout the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) and prioritizes where funds are spent.


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Will this project include noise walls?


No noise walls will be included in this project. A noise study was conducted and the following conclusions were presented:

  • Existing and design year (2025) traffic noise levels at any location abutting Abbott Road do not approach or exceed the FHWA and the DOT&PF noise abatement criteria (66 dBA);
  • Increase in design year noise levels are predicted to be less than 1.8dBA over existing levels.


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Was consideration given to the Anchorage Bicycle Plan? Or the Hillside District Plan?


Yes. Consideration of these and other plans is on-going and coordination with relevant agencies/groups is continuous.


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Will the drainage and sight problems at Carlson Road and Abbott Road be fixed?


Yes. A new culvert will be installed and the grade of Carlson Rd. will be raised as part of this project.


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Will this project add bus stops along Abbott Road?


The design team is coordinating with the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) Public Transportation Department to provide a practical and economical design for future transit facilities. Historically there have been a number of stops within this project’s corridor; however there are currently no active stops/routes due to budget limitations. In order to accommodate potential future needs, the project design includes off-street bus pullouts at major intersections. Signs, lighting and other amenities for the bus stops will not be installed as part of this project, but may be added in the future. The proposed bus pullouts will be located near the intersections of Lake Otis Pkwy., Little Brook St., Elmore Rd., and Sahalee / Spring Hill Drive with Abbott Road. Questions or comments regarding transit service along the Abbott Road Corridor can be addressed to the MOA at PeopleMover@muni.org or (907) 343-6543.


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