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What others say: Agreement between Fairbanks, railroad makes sense

Posted: January 12, 2014 - 1:42pm

It’s back to work for the Fairbanks City Council on Monday, and one of the items on the agenda is introduction of an agreement with the Alaska Railroad that will lead to the extension of a pedestrian/bike path on the north side of the Chena River.

A review of the proposal shows the terms to be reasonable. And the ultimate goal of a lengthy and continual path — the Chena River Walk — along nature’s centerpiece in the city is one that should have broad support.

The proposal in front of the council Monday night is for the approval of a land-use permit issued by the railroad for the creation of two segments of a path on railroad land on the north side of the Chena.

The segments total just more than one mile. The western segment would run from Peger Road to the existing footbridge that crosses the Chena at Pioneer Park. The segment east of that would run on the north side of the river opposite the baseball diamonds, the Fairbanks Curling Club and a residential area.

The city would be required, as part of the agreement, to purchase from the railroad the footbridge near Pioneer Park. The Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System Policy Committee has already provided $400,000 for that purpose.

The city also will be required to maintain the trail segments that cross railroad property.

A lot of work remains to be done — including the actual construction of the path and the building of two bridges to connect the eastern of the two segments under discussion with the existing path on the south side of the river.

The agreement with the railroad, including the required purchase of the bridge, becomes void if the city can’t find the funding to build the path by Jan. 31, 2019.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. A unified Chena River Walk would be a great asset for Fairbanks, not only for our annual influx of visitors but also for residents year-round. It’s good to see work on this project continuing.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

Jan. 4

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