Saturday, September 6, 2008

The walls come down

Well today was a milestone of sorts for both the Dena'ina Convention Center and the Pacillo parking garage in downtown Anchorage. Concrete barricades that left a portion of 8th Avenue, G Street, and F Street down to one lane are now gone this weekend as construction on the convention center and parking garage wrap up. Also 7th Avenue between G and F is entirely open to traffic (yeah I had to drive on it right away) while the portion of F Street that was under heavy reconstruction this summer between 6th and 7th opens as well. Of course I could care less about becoming a traffic reporter as the real goodies to see were the sidewalks and the buildings themselves. New light poles, benches, facades, and overall street/sidewalk designs make the area of F and 7th look like an oasis, or a piece of another city that landed down in Anchorage. It's really a weird feeling... kinda sterile with that feeling of newness as your entire environment around you is new. But then again, we're not just talking about your typical street and sidewalk upgrades that happen around the Anchorage bowl -- we're talking about the overnight rise of an entirely new high density district in Downtown. It's one thing had the convention center, the Pacillo garage, and the brick pattern streets came one by one over a period of a decade or so, but we're talking about all of them opening at once. Anyways the opening to the public of the Dena'ina Center should be in mid-September -- perhaps on the 18th. I'm not so sure though because the ADN reports that it will be on October 18th. Heresy! I've been hearing radio ads announcing that Damon Wayans will be performing in the Dena'ina on October 3rd. I suspect the ADN has a correction to make... or maybe Damon Wayans plans on opening to an audience of 0. Anyways I did at least try in my own effort to get into the convention center this morning, but the doors were locked :(

Monday, September 1, 2008

E Street, F Street projects coming along

Besides the Dena'ina Convention Center, and the Pacillo parking garage receiving its finishing touches, the E Street Corridor Project and the F Street Connectivity Project are impressively coming along faster than I had personally thought they would. Not that either project was expected to replicate the disastrous Arctic Boulevard rehab of 2006-2007, but I'm quite surprised with F Street in particular. While E Street is still nowhere near completion and will easily go into the 2009 construction season, F Street is looking like it will be open for traffic at any day now. Sure, unlike Arctic Blvd., only a short quiet stretch of F Street is getting reconstructed, but still, just 3 months ago there was a gaping hole in front of the Sub Zero bar. With that -- and the fact that F Street, like E Street, is to replace its asphalt with bricks, I was expecting construction to move into 2009. But now by the looks of it, F Street could be open by the time the Dena'ina Center opens in mid-September. Meanwhile, E Street is at, I'd say maybe 5% completion. 6th Avenue between G and D was totally shutdown this weekend as work crews tore up the intersection of 6th and E. Surely many of you on the road this weekend found out the hard way.

F Street near completion, Raised intersection at 5th and E nearly complete, plant foundation

blueprint of the E Street plans (PDF)