Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 4:44 PM on Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kachemak Drive bike path options explored

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer


Photographer: Lindsay Johnson, Homer News

Residents discuss the possibilities for a bike path along Kachemak Drive at a meeting last week.

Kachemak Drive is a busy route this time of year as cyclists take advantage of summer weather and boaters ready their rigs in the yards.

Making travel on the road both safe and productive for all user groups without further infringement on private property is a problem the Kachemak Drive Path Committee has been working on since December.

Last Thursday, more than 20 people attended an open house at city hall to see and discuss options for an approximately 3.5-mile non-motorized path connecting East End Road with the Homer Spit Road.

Business owners, bicyclists and area residents saw maps of proposed routes and expressed both concerns over and support of a path.

Four main actions are currently on the table.

The most straightforward and apparently popular option is to widen the shoulder by repainting the road and possibly filling in pavement in narrow sections. Traffic lanes on Kachemak Drive are currently striped at least 12 feet, two feet wider than what the Department of Transportation requires for a 35 mile per hour speed zone. Narrowing the lanes would provide more designated room for cyclists and pedestrians while helping slow traffic to the posted speed limit.

"It's proven that narrowing lanes slows down traffic. It tends to psychologically slow things down," committee chair Bumppo Bremicker said.

Another option is to just decrease the speed limit to 25 mph during summer months and make the road a Scenic Byway.

While a path along the road would serve the needs of bicycle commuters, it wouldn't be ideal for all users. Less competent cyclists, children, recreational walkers and disabled users would be safer and happier on a separated path.

Obtaining approval from property owners on Kachemak Drive is among one of the many challenges facing construction of a separated path.

A more scenic, recreational path could be built with less impact on property owners on the power line or sewer and water right of way.

"Stage by stage really makes sense. What we have now is really unsafe," Lindianne Sarno.

The final alternative is to take no action. While this has remained a possibility throughout the information gathering process, the committee has heard more voices in support rather than opposition of a path.

"This project has been on the city list one way or another since the late '80s," said committee member Dave Brann, adding that it seems to be more a matter of when than if.

"When is getting closer," he said.

The "when" is contingent on community input.

"If you want to see a trail we've got to get behind it. Really what makes things happen is public support," Bremicker said.

"You have to say, 'what do you want?' then figure out how it's going to happen."

A survey about Kachemak Drive possibilities is available at the city's website. Anyone who uses the road is encouraged to participate.

More information may also be found by searching meeting minutes posted on the site or by calling Bremicker at 399-1345.

The next committee meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. July 7 at City Hall.