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It’s nice to have a crane downtown.  It means construction, creation, jobs – and a new bridge, new investment in downtown’s transportation infrastructure.  The Barnette Bridge will connect to a new Terminal Street intersection immediately to the north when that intersection is built next summer.  If completed according to plan, these new investments will serve to move motorists swiftly through downtown.

Moving motorists through downtown was the original intent of the Illinois Street Project; that was also the gist of converting Cushman Street to one-way traffic in the 1970s when the only road to Prudhoe Bay led through downtown and Cushman Street had to carry pipe.

Wait.  Move traffic through downtown?  Still?  What if that is hurting downtown?  Can’t these new investments in downtown’s infrastructure encourage people to stay downtown, enjoy themselves and support local businesses? 

What you can do:

  • Email FMATS Coordinator Donna Gardino to support setting the stage for downtown revitalization by making Cushman a two-way street
  • Attend the FMATS meeting Wednesday, June 2 @ noon at City Hall to hear the Technical Committee formulate a recommendation to the Policy Committee on downtown’s infrastructure investments
  • Attend the FMATS Policy Committee meeting Wednesday, June 16 @ 10 AM at City Hall to support setting the stage for downtown revitalization
  • Learn more about the benefits of 2-way streets

The whole point of the Vision Fairbanks Downtown Plan is to make downtown more livable:  a mix of retail, commercial and residential uses centered around public infrastructure – City streets – which alone can make downtown pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly, which in turn makes downtown competitive for private investment.    A central element of downtown’s revitalization is restoring Cushman Street to two-way traffic.

Compared to one-way streets, two-way streets have demonstrable benefits for making downtown livable and competitive for private investment.  Restoring Cushman Street to two-way traffic unlocks potential to stimulate private investment downtown.

There is still time to revise the 30-year old plan to move motorists swiftly through downtown.

  • Even though intended as a one-way facility, the new Barnette Bridge is wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic “someday” (as DOT says).
  • The Terminal Street intersection can be re-designed to accommodate two-way traffic.   Right-of-way (ROW) acquisition will determine when the intersection can actually be built; and at this point, the DOT has less than half of the necessary ROW.
  • The re-design will cost money, but is not projected to delay the project.  An intersection that accomodates two-way traffic on Cushman and Barnette streets, be it a roundabout or a signalized intersection, may today cost more money to construct.  But the projections are that it will save money to build it right the first time, rather than  “someday” (as DOT says).