Governor Walker Thanks Secretary Chao for Reopening Sterling Highway Alternatives
Decision allows second look at best options for Sterling Highway improvements
August 24, 2017 ANCHORAGE —Governor Bill Walker today thanked U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao for directing the Federal Highway Administration to reexamine the alternatives for the Sterling Highway MP 45-60 project, often referred to as the Cooper Landing bypass project.
“It is critical to the safety and health of both Alaskan motorists and our world-class salmon fisheries that this complicated project move forward,” said Governor Walker. “The current road alignment does not meet current highway standards, is congested, and due to its proximity to the river has an increased risk of spills that would harm salmon in the Kenai and Russian Rivers. I thank Secretary Chao for allowing all options for this project to be considered.”
The Sterling Highway MP 45-60 project will improve safety and traffic flow on the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing by reducing congestion, improving safety and bringing the road up to current standards. The project will also relocate a major portion of the Sterling Highway away from the Kenai River.
Recently, four alternatives were considered; the Cooper Creek Alternative, G South Alternative, Juneau Creek Alternative and Juneau Creek Variant Alternative. The G South Alternative was the preferred option because it avoided sensitive properties and the crossing of Resurrection Trail. Many Alaskans preferred the Juneau Creek Alternative because it took the road away from the Kenai River to the greatest extent.
“This is a positive development, and a great example of this administration’s willingness to listen to Alaskans and act,” said Marc Luiken, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. “This is a desperately needed project and by being able to consider all options we can ensure that the selected alternative is the best option to improve safety and protect the environment.”
Environmental work for the Sterling Highway MP 45-60 project was initiated in 1975 and continues today. This is currently the longest running federally led Environmental Impact Statement in the country.