- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska Department of Transportation has shifted more than $1 million designated in 2012 for design of Anchorage bicycle infrastructure to other projects and bike advocates say it’s a setback for improving safety in Alaska’s largest city.

More than 125 people in 2012 wrote to Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions, the federally funded group responsible for transportation projects in the city, to advocate for bike project design money.

About $1 million had been designated for designing bike projects. AMATS added another $1.3 million.

The Department of Transportation was supposed to obligate the extra money by September but ultimately concluded the original $1 million was enough for design work, said project manager David Post.

“And I think they’ve got plenty of money to keep them moving forward, certainly at the rate they’re progressing,” he said.

The money will cover design costs of 10 to 12 bike infrastructure projects. A city bike plan envisions 300 projects, from painting stripes on the sides of road to building off-road bike trails.

“So we went ahead and de-obligated that money, or let it go on to other projects,” said DOT spokeswoman Jill Reese. “It’s really difficult to trace down what those projects are, but that’s really beside the point.”

Bike Anchorage President Brian Litmans called the decision a major setback. More design work would have made more projects ready for construction.

“DOT referred to it as quote ‘a little snafu’” at a March meeting, he said. “And I find that unfortunate, especially when we are lacking bicycle infrastructure in this city. We only have 10 miles of bike lanes and most other cities that have the number of bicyclists that we do have much more bicycle infrastructure and as a result their cities are much safer than ours.”

Craig Lyon, the municipality’s transportation planning manager, said he didn’t learn the money was moved until recently. DOT officials had not previously mentioned that they didn’t need the additional $1.3 million for design work, he said.

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