Several representatives from Port Blakely Communities met with the Council Transportation Committee on Aug. 14 to further discuss the vacation of Federal Drive, while dozens of community members listened in.
Port Blakely has petitioned the city to allow them to close Federal and re-route the curved street to make a street that runs mostly parallel to Park Drive and connects to Eddy Way and 10th Avenue.
The stretch of Park Drive currently between Federal Drive and Highlands will be converted from a one-way to a two-way road.
Port Blakely President Judd Kirk said that for many years, company officials have been told that the current design does not make sense, and noted that changing the design will be very expensive.
The company has a rough estimate of $3 million for the project, but that could change depending on the final configuration.
“It solves the problem of connectivity though,” Kirk said.
The change could also bring in more retail Kirk said, although he stressed that the main concern was public safety and improving the sense of place.
“It’s clear we’re not going to do this if it doesn’t make sense,” Kirk said. “For years we’ve resisted doing this because it is so expensive.”
Port Blakely officials are now pursuing this alternative because they have found ways to use alternative public utilities, so the ones under Federal can be abandoned in place, Kirk said.
The issue was sent to the Transportation Committee after a public hearing on the event showed that many citizens who came to speak were confused about what changes exactly the roads were going to undergo.
Council members decided it would be a good idea to send the proposal to the committee, as well as mandating that Port Blakely and the Highlands host a Town Hall meeting to discuss the proposal.
Director of Legal and Community Affairs for Port Blakely, Chris Hysom, told the committee members that about 50 Highlands residents showed up to the Aug. 6 town hall meeting.
Port Blakely also presented a traffic model that showed future traffic with the proposed changes during peak traffic hours, which showed few back-ups. The model was completed with the assumption that many drivers would take the new alternative connections offered by Eddy Way and 10th.
The council will discuss the matter again at its Sept. 2 meeting.