By: Blake Essig
Channel 2 News
7:25 PM AKDT, August 24, 2012
Construction on a new parking lot began early this week at one of Anchorage’s most popular recreational areas, with the hopes of alleviating a nagging problem.
The new parking lot at Glen Alps Trailhead will add 50 new parking spaces to the 150 that already exist.
Park officials estimate that 135,000 people access the state park through the Glen Alps Trailhead every year.
“It is the easiest access to the beautiful Chugach range from Anchorage,” said Anchorage resident Beth Walker. “It’s about a 15-20 minute drive from anywhere in the city.”
Which creates a high demand for a limited amount of parking, especially on nice summer days.
“Obviously when we have blue bird days and the weather is really nice we can draw visitors up here,” said Park Ranger Kurt Hensel. “But unfortunately we don’t have the accommodation to take care of everybody.”
Which is one reason the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Recreation recently began construction. Expanding the Glen Alps number of parking spaces by a third.
“That’s important for us,” said Hensel. Because we want to try to maximize peoples recreational experience and we try to afford the best access we can.”
But not everyone thinks that an additional 50 spots is quite enough.
“A lot of times we come up here on a nice day,” said Angie Pinsonneault of Anchorage. “You end up circling and you follow people walking to there cars and wait there until they pack up there car and leave so 50 would definitely help, but I don’t know it is enough or not.”
“I don’t want them to take more of the park away,” said Walker. “I wish if it was further down the hill you would see more of the actual park and not just where all the cars are.”
“If you make a giant parking lot up here you’ll have an ant hill,” said Mickey Williams, a frequent visitor to Alaska. “So there’s got to be some sort of compromise made.”
Although some question the construction, officials say the extra parking spaces will ease the congestion issues, but wont solve the problem.
“I think adding more spaces will help distribute some of the congestion issues we have by expanding the roadway down there and increase those parking spaces,” said Ranger Hensel. “We’re still going to have days where we’re going to draw a lot of visitors up here and we’re going to have to turn those folks around.”
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