The main issue in the area right now is Spenard Road. Spenard Road between Minnesotta and Fireweed is an interesting collection of shops with the potential to become a great shopping district. The variety of locally grown businesses and the private spending improving the area has been a real benefit. The main restraint is the condition of the roadway including the sidewalks and accommodation for the increased number of cyclists and for buses. The shops are great, the shopping stinks.

Funding for the Spenard Road Project from 32d to Hillcrest is part of the Roads and Drainage Bond that will be on the April 2015 ballot.

For more info:

Anchorage Daily News: City to rebuild Spenard Road with fewer lanes Read more here

KTVA Channel 11 Spenard Business Owners React to Road Reconfiguration Plan Pedestrian-friendly changes require major construction By Heather Hintze more here

Improvements to the road have been going through a sporadic scoping process for more than a decade. The proposals through this time have been supported by most businesses along the project area. Unfortunately, a few vocal opponents have managed to block progress and create the perception that "business opposes the project."

Businesses do not oppose the project.

Businesses want it.

The following petition was sent around in early 2011 and the majority of the business and property owners, 26, signed it to show their support for the proposed project along the north part of Spenard Road (primarily between 32d and Fireweed) .

Spenard Road Business and Property Owners for a Safe and Efficient Three-Lane Design

We,  business and property owners along Spenard Road, request that the Municipality of Anchorage commence the final design and construction of a three-lane road between Hillcrest Drive and West 30th Avenue.

We have reviewed the features of both the three and four-lane options as ably presented by Assembly members Ernie Hall and Harriet Drummond at public meetings in December of 2010 and January 2011.

We believe that the three-lane option is preferable to business and property owners for the following reasons:

Right-of-way Acquisition: We do not want to lose property. The three-lane option does not require the acquisition of right-of-way along one side of road. The four-lane option requires the “taking” of a strip of land from three to eleven feet wide along one side of the road.  This would negatively impact a number of businesses while potentially delaying the construction of this important road safety and efficiency project.

Vehicle Safety: We want a road where our customers can safely get into our parking lots and then into our businesses. Spenard is one of the most dangerous roads in
Anchorage. Unsafe roads keep customers away. At traffic levels on Spenard,   a three-lane road is safer than a four-lane road.

Pedestrian Safety: We want our customers to safely and enjoyably walk between businesses in this shopping district. We want them to stay in the area and shop, shop, shop! We also want easy access for our wheelchair-bound customers.The three-lane option has wide sidewalks on both sides of the road that would invite shoppers to wander the area and patronize multiple businesses.

• Cycling Safety:.  There has been a continuing increase in cycling for many years.  We need to provide a safe place for cyclists The three-lane option calls for bike lanes on
both sides of the roadway The four-lane option calls instead for a “multi-use trail” on one side of the road. That would mean that customers leaving our businesses would come immediately into direct conflict with bikes as soon as they step out our doors.

Sidewalks are for Walkers. The Municipal Bike Plan that unanimously passed both the Anchorage Planning and Zoning Commission and the Assembly calls for these bike lanes on Spenard Road. Sidewalks are for shoppers with shopping bags.

Snow Storage: We are open year round and we want safe and inviting access year round. The current narrow four-foot sidewalks are covered in piles of crusted snow and ice during and after winter storms. This stops customers from being able to get safely to our businesses. The four-lane option does not solve this problem. The three-lane option provides better areas for snow storage.

Public Visibilty: We want the continued exposure that property along the road enjoys. In 1988, the southern section of
Spenard Road was rebuilt using a three-lane design. It now efficiently moves 36% more traffic than North Spenard Road. North Spenard has 52% more crashes than South Spenard. The three-lane option moves traffic as efficiently as the traditional four-lane design.

Urban Renewal:  The Spenard area as a unique shopping experience is threatened as substantial public and private investment is made in other shopping areas in Anchorage.  The business owners along Spenard Road have been investing in our buildings and landscaping.  The quality of the road corridor has lagged and prevents this area from being as vibrant and successful as it should be.

We support this project with the expectation that the Municipality will work closely with business and property owners to make sure that construction is done in a way that minimizes disruption to our businesses. We expect that the project will be done in stages with incentives for the contractor to finish early and disincentives to finish late.

Business/Property Name Address Owner Name and Signature Date



Note the clearly marked crosswalks.






Here's a view to the north with AMH on the right and Play It Again on the left. The Farmers Market is open and the sun is always shining! Down the middle is a safe turn lane.











Check out that wide sidewalk and all the shoppers!

What creates value in a shopping and entertainment area? People coming to stay for all that's going on









Why do businesses want this project? Because the benefits of making an area like this a pleasant place to walk around and hang out are well documented nationwide. Business will prosper.

Why should the neighbors and and the rest of Anchorage want this project? Because it's good for the surrounding area.

Here's a recent study funded by American Express on "Independent Business Districts" that presents info on areas much like Spenard. Just a few excerpts:

With surprising consistency, we found that growth in a nearby independent business district was tightly associated with increased home values in excess of the gains shown in the broader market (either city or county). Among the 27 business districts studied, adjacent neighborhoods outgained their broader markets by 50% over the 14 years for which data was available.

Study neighborhoods also consistently added jobs as sales increased. The shops, restaurants, and bars of the average study district increased employment from 1,100 to over 1,800.

In our experience, when most people look at these districts they may see a collection of small storefronts that do not, individually, employ large numbers of people. However, considering these clusters of storefronts collectively reveals a concentrated source of employment opportunities.

In addition, these jobs are created not at the periphery of the city but in established neighborhoods. They are generally well served by transit, built on a human scale, and a short, safe walk from residential blocks. These activities occur where the infrastructure already exists.

Thriving independent business districts create tangible benefits in every city studied. They bring jobs to the people, revitalize entire neighborhoods, and generate tax revenue where it is often most needed. Moreover, these districts require minimal investment and support from the public sector.

Where is this project now?
The committee formed in 2011 by Assembly members Ernie Hall and Harriet Drummond requested changes to the road similar to those in the petition.

The committee members were chosen to include the business owners most opposed to significant changes to Spenard Road and the committee worked for consensus. This left it dancing around the issue of converting Spenard Road into a three lane road (2 driving lanes with a center turn lane). The reality is that to achieve the goals the committee supports, a three lane road is required.

For roads with the traffic levels experienced on Spenard, three lanes moves traffic better and safer and it provides room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes. The south end of Spenard Road is a good example of a "3-lane" road. It is combination of 3 and 4 lanes, it moves more traffic than the north end and it has less accidents.

The following was sent to the Municipality of Anchorage road engineers in September of 2011. The engineers had a design meeting these goals ready in January of 2012. Another meeting of the committee should be in January or February of 2012.

Spenard Road Redesign Task Force

The Future Spenard Road

(v.9.16.11:  With edited changes proposed by Task Force members.) 


SECTION 1 of 3

All agree that there should be a project to enhance safety and accessibility for Spenard Road.  Redesign priorities are:

·       Neighborhood to remain unique, diverse and have a neighborhood feel encouraging interaction of businesses, neighbors and customers;

·       Where businesses are a shopping, entertainment & recreation destination;

·       Businesses are viable, local, grassroots, and diverse;

·       Pedestrians have easy access to businesses, feel safe, and are a safe distance from vehicle traffic;

·       Pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized modes of transportation have reasonable access and accommodations;

·       Speed limit will be lowered to 25 miles per hour on the project (between 30th Avenue and Hillcrest Drive);

·       Two timed/count down, on demand crosswalks across Spenard Road be installed between 27th and Fireweed Lane (exact locations TBD);

·       A crosswalk with timed “walk/don’t walk” lights be installed at Fireweed Lane crossing Spenard Road on the north side of the intersection. 

·       Crosswalks be painted on the south and west sides of the intersection of Spenard Road and Hillcrest Drive.

·       A “pork chop” vs. median be placed at Photo Avenue allowing northbound turns onto Spenard Road from Photo Avenue and preventing eastbound turns from Spenard Road onto Photo Avenue;

·       DOT building at Benson be removed;

·       Back-in diagonal parking appears viable and should be encouraged with the consent of affected property owners.

·       Snow cleared from road and sidewalks ASAP and hauled away, not using sidewalks for storage.

SECTION 2 of 3

Some “would likes” for Spenard Road’s redesign include:

·       Is visually appealing, has a well planned and maintained landscaping with flowers

·       Move sidewalks closer to stores on store-side of parking so cars don’t drive across sidewalks if liabilities and responsibilities do not change for businesses and businesses have reasonable control over adjacent parking spaces.

·       Raised tabletops intersections at 25th, 26th & 27th Ave and at mid block crossings.

·       Repaint turn arrow on Spenard Road onto Hillcrest going to West High School

·       Maps for visitors “You are Here”

·       27th Avenue: Two options:

·       1) Align the eastern side of 27th Avenue to match up with the western side of 27th Avenue or

·       2) In lieu of aligning the eastern side of 27th Avenue to match up with the western side of 27th Avenue, install a “pork chop” and signage on the western side of 27th Avenue allowing westbound turns onto western 27th from northbound and southbound Spenard Road, southbound turns onto Spenard Road from western 27th and preventing cross Spenard Road transit from the western side of 27th Avenue to the eastern side of 27th Avenue and visa versa. This option provides for more public parking in the Qwik Tow lot.

·       Right turn only off northbound Spenard Road onto eastbound 29th Avenue with a “pork chop” preventing southbound turns from the same eastern side of 29th Avenue onto Spenard Road.

·       8 foot island south past 29th Avenue on Spenard Road

·       Short median with landing from Benson past 29th Avenue is good

·       Cross Walk across Photo Avenue (running north/south)

·       More parking mandated by MOA for Bear Tooth

·       27th Avenue straightened

·        A bus mini-depot in Quick Tow lot if it would fit. And/or as much public parking as possible in this same lot.

SECTION 3 of 3

All agree on questions that need answers about Spenard Road’s redesign include:

·       Is back-in diagonal parking legal?  Can businesses limit it to their customers? Does code need to be rewritten or is it covered now?

·       Can business-parking credits be used if public parking lots are close by? How close would they need to be? Does code need to be rewritten?

·       Are there potential incentives for private development of parking facilities that would be available to the public?

·       Can pull-in/out bus stop be placed on west side adjacent to Play It Again Sports (moved north to the next corner from Bear Tooth/Plato’s/Brown Jug current stop)?  That is what the task force desires.

·       Is a median between Northern Lights and Benson necessary?

·        Could a turn in lane be added on the west side into REI and move sidewalk into parking lot right of way? Could REI Northern Lights driveway be eliminated, management thoughts first?

·        What ADA requirements will apply to new sidewalks on Spenard Road?

Regarding Three vs. Four lanes: We all agree that we have been unable to agree on either three or four lanes for Spenard Road. Preferences for either three or four lanes were low on the prioritization/visioning exercise done by the Task Force:  An expressed preference for four lanes received only two votes; an expressed preference for three lanes received only one vote.

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chamber [ at] spenard.biz