Wednesday, October 8, 2008

7th and C traffic lights flick on

The intersection of 7th Avenue and C Street wasn't so much an intersection as it was more of an alley going through a highway. That was until late last week when the traffic lights which were installed later in the summer were uncovered from their protective sheets and put into operation. Since the discussions of an expansion to the Anchorage Museum of History and Art came to the forefront some years ago, the topic of reconnecting the museum to lively West Downtown also became part of that discussion. As my local Anchoragites can attest, while the Egan, Dena'ina, and Performing Arts Center as well as other attractions enjoy a close pedestrian friendly proximity from one another, the Anchorage Museum of History and Art paired with the Federal Building across the street have for many years become excluded from the "in-crowd" of downtown attractions as they sat on the other side of a busy three lane artery that is free of stop signs and where cars coming from the Glenn Highway or the port of Anchorage often accelerate up to 40 mph south toward Midtown. If you're not catching on, C Street is such a wide and divisive road that it has become the unofficial boundary line between West Downtown and East Downtown. Though the city has been making an effort for years now, East Downtown continues to lag way behind the lively West, and I think C Street may be a factor. Now of course a set of lights will not cure all the problems, rather there is still a long way to go; but it's start. Besides the lighted intersection, the proposed controversial Highway to Highway project would keep commuters on the Glenn Highway and direct them into the Seward Highway rather than having traffic leave the highway in large numbers and flooding into C Street like a gush of water breaking through a dam. And it's not just C Street that is a problem. It's also A Street, 5th Avenue, and 6th Avenue. In the meantime, it will be nice to see how things are next summer once the new museum is open and pedestrians are no longer having to make a mad dash to the other side so as to not become roadkill.

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