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Nerka residents voice concern over proposed access road

Bristol Engineering Services Corporation

Homeowners worry the proposed Teal Lane Extension could affect property values, disrupt Squaw Creek, and increase traffic in Nerka Subdivision

Nearly 20 Dillingham residents attended a meeting Monday on a $7.5-million dollar project that would widen and pave roads within Nerka Subdivision.

While the construction is not yet funded and may be years off, several people voiced concerns about one part of the plan in particular - a new access road, called the Teal Lane extension.

Senior Engineer Isaac Pearson with the contractor Bristol Engineering Services Corporation presented the designs. He says there are two options for the $1-million dollar road, which would connect Teal Lane to Emperor Way by crossing Squaw Creek.

"Alternative 1 is a two-lane access road which involves a creek re-alignment, and Alternative 3 is a one-lane gravel exit-only road without a creek realignment," Pearson explained.

Pearson says the Teal Lane Extension would provide an important second outlet from the neighborhood in case of emergency.

Credit Bristol Engineering Services Corporation
Nerka residents say paving old roads will be a welcome development; it's the proposed new road construction they worry about.

Many residents of Nerka expressed concern that the access road would make the neighborhood more dangerous by increasing the volume and speed of traffic on Nerka Loop.

"The upshot of this is that Nerka Loop turns into a feeder road for Emperor Way," said Rich Thompson. "My objection is that it seems the road, with the Teal Lane extension, turns a residential subdivision into a racetrack."

There was also much speculation about what the development could do to property values in the neighborhood.

Gordon Isaacs owns two lots in Nerka Subdivision. He acknowledged his neighbors’ concerns that increased traffic could lower property value. "But I think that the paved road would raise the property value, and then those two would balance each other out," said Isaacs.

Others were most concerned with Squaw Creek itself. Biologists say silver salmon spawn in that section of creek.  

After about an hour of questions concerning the Teal Lane Extension, Pearson asked the attendees to take a straw poll.

"Would the preferred Teal Extension be the full-blown extension, or would it be an exit-only?" asked Pearson, "taking away your bias for the NO Teal Extension option..."

“Uh, how about a footpath?" came the reply. "A catapult, maybe!”

By show of hands, more people said they'd prefer the one-way exit-only option, but most residents said they’d continue to oppose the access road in any form.

The project is funded through the Indian Reservations Roads program, but only currently there's only enough funding for the design phase.

If Curyung Tribal Council is able to secure funding for construction, Pearson says it would still have to pass the City of Dillingham Planning Commission, City Council, and get environmental permits with three different agencies before it could be built. 

To view design plans, members of the public can log into Bristol’s FTP site at https://ftp.bristol-companies.com/ (Username: nerkarddes Password: nerkarddes102015)
Contact the author at hannah@kdlg.org. 

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