Report backs coastal route for Anchorage trail

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles is giving a final push to a proposed extension of Anchorage's popular Coastal Trail, announcing a key report that supports a mostly coastal route from Kincaid Park to Potter Marsh.

Knowles spoke Tuesday while standing on the existing Coastal Trail. The trail is named for Knowles, a former mayor of Anchorage. The trail, completed in 1988, runs about 11 miles from downtown to Kincaid Park.

The proposed 13-mile extension has been held up by route disputes for five years. Opponents of the coastal route include homeowners, who would see the trail from their back yards. They have favored an inland route.

Release of the federal draft Environmental Impact Statement triggers a public comment period. If there are no snags it could result in the release of a final Environmental Impact Statement and a decision to proceed.

The route the state has chosen as preferred is estimated to cost $37 million, the most expensive among five alternatives. Ninety percent of it would be paid for with federal transportation dollars. The others ranged from about $24 million to $33 million.

The chosen route is ranked highest for natural settings and coastal views. The route was modified from an earlier below-the-bluff version, to avoid environmentally sensitive areas and potential conflicts with hunters.

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