O'Malley Road Reconstruction Phase II

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is the project funded?

This project is being developed so that State of Alaska General Obligation bond funding, Legislative appropriations, and Federal Highway Administration funding can be used.

2. How will this project improve safety on O’Malley Road?

This project will improve safety in several key ways. The first is by adding a combination of a two-way center left-turn lane and dedicated left-turn pockets that will enable turning traffic to move out of the through lane when slowing down to turn. Dedicated left-turn pockets will be installed at intersections that have high level of opposing left-turns (i.e. east and west bound simultaneous left-turns). Accommodating left-turns in this way will reduce rear-end collisions by separating left-turning traffic from through traffic and will also reduce head-on collisions by providing a buffer between opposing traffic. The second is wider shoulders that make it safer and easier to make evasive maneuvers to avoid potential crashes or reduce their severity. Wider shoulders also give cyclists a safer place to ride. Thirdly, the vertical profile of the roadway is being adjusted to improve sight distance within the corridor specifically at the Cange Street intersection. Lastly, the corridor will have additional clearing of vegetation beyond the toe of slope for improved visibility to reduce moose collisions.

3. Will there be a separated pathway?

Yes, the project includes separated pathway(s) to accommodate non-motorized transportation. To balance impacts to the human and natural environment, the project is currently proposing the following pedestrian pathway improvements:
North side of roadway

  • a 10-foot wide paved pathway from Livingston Street to Rockridge Drive
  • a 6-foot paved pathway from Rockridge Drive to Hillside Drive were it terminates

South side of roadway

  • a 10-foot paved pathway from Livingston Street to Birch Road
  • a 6-foot paved pathway from Birch Road to Rockridge Drive where it terminates.
  • The south pathway terminus, at Rockridge, maintains logical pathway connectivity to the existing path along Rockridge Drive heading south and feeds into the neighborhood and O’Malley Elementary.

Implementing various pathway widths of 6 feet to 10 feet and removal of the south pathway between Rockridge Drive and Hillside Drive was due to public input concerning fast traveling bicyclist, tree clearing, and ROW impacts that are not cost beneficial to the project.

The design for the north pathway is included in this project but its construction is dependent on available funding and may have to be constructed in the future as a follow on project.

At the time the development of the project’s Environmental Assessment and preliminary design was underway, there was only one plan for non-motorized transportation in effect, the 1997 Anchorage Areawide Trails Plan. Although the Municipality of Anchorage is currently working on the Anchorage Trails Plan to replace the 1997 Anchorage Areawide Trails Plan, the 1997 Anchorage Areawide Trails Plan remains a current element of non-motorized transportation planning. The 1997 Anchorage Areawide Trails plan recommends a multi-use, paved trail along the south side of O’Malley Road, from the Seward Highway to Hillside Drive.  More residential development is adjacent to the south side of the roadway, O’Malley Elementary School is located to the south of the roadway, and placing the facility for non-motorized transportation along the south side of O’Malley Road is also less costly as it impacts fewer utilities.

Since the completion of the project’s Environmental Assessment in December 2005, three new planning documents have been completed with various recommendations for non-motorized facilities along O’Malley Road:

  • Anchorage Bicycle Plan, March 2010 - This plan recommends (as Priority A projects), both bicycle lanes from Seward Highway to Hillside Drive and a separated path from Lake Otis Parkway to Hillside Drive.
  • Hillside District Plan, April 2010 – This plan proposes primary trails on both the north and south sides of O’Malley Road from Seward Highway to Hillside Drive.
  • Anchorage Pedestrian Plan, October 2007 – This plan identifies 19,000 feet of missing sidewalk along O’Malley Road between Seward Highway and Hillside Drive. As part of this plan’s development, all area Community Councils were questioned about pedestrian needs. All councils identified a need along O’Malley Road, but two councils placed the needed pedestrian route on the south side of O’Malley Road and one council placed it on the north side of O’Malley Road.

Due to these new planning documents, as well as a $1 million dollar appropriation by the Legislature for a construction of a path along the north side of O’Malley Road, the project team began evaluating the impacts and costs of an additional separated pathway along the north side of the roadway.  The impacts and additional cost of a path on both the north and south side of O’Malley Road were shown at the project open house held June 10, 2014.

At the project open house, several adjacent property owners along the steepest section of O’Malley Road, between Birch Road and Hillside Drive, expressed concern that the long, steep grades in this section would encourage inexperienced bicyclists, skateboarders, and in-line skaters to travel at high rates of speed. To address these concerns, the project proposes a narrower pathway surfaced with recycled asphalt between Birch Road and Hillside Drive. This would be similar to what was constructed along Eagle River Loop Road between Tedrow Drive and Aurora Street. The project is not proposing a separated pathway along the south side of O’Malley Road between Rockridge Drive and Hillside Drive to reduce impacts to the adjacent properties.

4. Does this project include dedicated bike lanes?

Yes, the project includes 6- foot wide paved shoulders that will be marked and signed as bike lanes. The MOA’s Anchorage Bicycle Plan has identified this section of O’Malley Road as having marked bicycle lanes.

5. Will the trees and vegetation have to be cleared beyond where it is now?

Additional clearing will be needed on this project. Tree and brush clearing is necessary in the corridor to improve side-street and driveway sight distance, to reduce moose/vehicle crashes, and to accommodate the widened roadway and drainage ditches. Additional clearing may also be necessary to relocate utilities.

6. Will lighting be added?

New lighting is currently proposed only at the Our Road intersection where the traffic analysis shows a dedicated left-turn pocket is warranted. Existing lighting will be replaced where it is located today at Elmore Road, Birch Road, and Hillside Drive.

7. When is Elmore Road going to be punched through to connect between Abbott and O'Malley?

The continuation of Elmore Road is not in the scope of this project, but it is listed in the Anchorage Metropolitan Transportation Solutions (AMATS) 2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. The project is not currently listed in any funding plan.

8. When will this project go to construction?

The start of construction is dependent on many factors such as funding, acquisition of additional right-of-way, and permitting. Construction of this project is currently anticipated to begin in 2019.

9. Will there be overlap with the Abbott Road Project construction season?

DOT&PF cannot guarantee that there will not be any overlap. However, it is extremely unlikely that significant overlap will occur.

10. Will this project include noise walls?

Per the Department’s Noise Policy, any noise barriers must be found to be both feasible and reasonable by a noise study conducted per the DOT&PF Noise Policy, April 2011.  If a noise barrier is found to be both feasible and reasonable, it must also be desired by at least 60 percent of the property owners benefiting from the noise abatement measures to be included in the project. An updated Noise Study was completed in 2014 did find one noise barrier within the limits of the O’Malley Road Phase II project to be both feasible and reasonable.

If this proposed noise barrier is supported by at least 60 percent of the property owners benefitting from the noise abatement measures, a noise barrier will be constructed along the south side of O’Malley Road between the driveway at 4100 O’Malley Road and Elmore Road. The proposed noise barrier will be approximately 8 feet high, approximately 182 feet long. The noise barrier will be constructed of wood and be similar in appearance to the noise barrier being constructed as part of the O’Malley Road Phase I project.

11. Was consideration given to the Anchorage Bicycle Plan?

Yes. The Anchorage Bicycle Plan shows O’Malley Road with both a Proposed Bicycle Lane and a Proposed Separated Multi-Use Pathway. The current project scope includes a separated multi-use pathway and bicycle lane.