The State of Alaska is planning some big improvements for Lake Street in Homer, and the plans may include installation of the Kenai Peninsula’s first roundabout.
The City of Homer, in conjuction with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, are currently drafting plans to rehabilitate and improve Lake Street, which connects Pioneer Avenue and the Sterling Highway.
According to Homer City Planner Rick Abboud, this was proposed a couple years ago and ever since its proposal, Lake Street has undergone tests to determine what needs fixing or improving.
"They've been doing some environmental studies on it lately ... they have engineers looking at some of the drainage issues," said Abboud.
In addition to the pavement and drainage system of Lake Street being renovated, there are a couple additional proposed improvements as well, including a bike path, which Abboud says would help provide bikers with a pathway from Pioneer Avenue to the Sterling Highway.
Another proposal was to improve the intersection of Lake Street with Pioneer Avenue and East End Road, a high traffic area in Homer that currently features a four-way stop light, which may potentially include installation of a roundabout. While Abboud said that there hasn’t been any strong reaction from the community either in favor or against the idea of a roundabout, he did say that whenever a roundabout is proposed it is almost always controversial.
"I would hesitate to see what the split is on that," he said. "There's a lot of people supporting it and several people that wouldn't want to see one, either."
Sean Baski, a project manager with the Department of Transportation working with the City of Homer on the proposed rehabilitation project said that while roundabouts are controversial, he also claimed that the main reason for their installation is that they decrease the risk of traffic accidents for communities.
"There have been studies ... that have shown huge safety benefits to roundabouts," said Baski. "Beyond that, there's ... a decrease in maintenance costs to the state and the general public."
The planned renovations and improvements for Lake Street are scheduled to take place in 2015, although according to Abboud that date is subject to change as per the plans of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP.