After hearing from nearly 20 members of the public Monday night, the Alaska Department of Transportation project engineer said he will work on a bike trail on either side of Ocean Drive.
Homer City Council chambers was flooded by bicyclists wanting to weigh in on the paving work currently underway at Ocean Drive.
Sean Baski, DOT project manager made a presentation to the council Monday night, showing the design options.
Based on public input, Baski said the six-foot shoulders to either side of the 12-foot lanes were preferred by the public.
Six-foot shoulders on roadways are seen as the minimum for safety of bikers and pedestrians, Baski said. “If there’s any less than five feet, you want a visual thing like a pedestrian railing or a guard rail to show this is an area that a vehicle should not be,” he said. “(Also) wrong-way ridership goes against the rules of the road,” so newer road design helps with properly placed signage that is neither too far nor too close to pullouts.
After an open house in July 2013, the Homer Cycling Club wrote a letter endorsing DOTs design that is currently being pursued. Baski said a lot of Homer residents gave input into the project.
“This is a very active community and it is a breath of fresh air to walk into community who shares their opinions so readily,” Baski said. “(DOT) has projects all over. To find a community that has concerns and is willing to voice them is a refreshing thing.”
The opposite of this is doing projects that do not meet community goals or needs.
Councilman David Lewis questioned the placement of a crosswalk near the Beluga Lake Lodge that is also on a slope. Baski said he would take a look at this and perhaps find a better place for a crosswalk.
Several members of the public wanted the crosswalk placed at the Homer Farmer’s Market because that’s an area that sees the most foot traffic. Councilman Bryan Zak recommended a sidewalk also be installed there to accommodate pedestrians.
Baski said the DOT project scope is defined as a striping and resurfacing project. Therefore, there isn’t design or construction funding for things outside the scope. But he can work in safety and some suggestions for the project, which should be completed this fall.
• Homer Port and Harbor fees are set to go up: The Homer Port and Harbor Commission is looking at a new rate structure that, if adopted, should take place over the next 10 years.
At a 3.2 percent fee increase in the next decade, Homer will have the money needed for infrastructure at the harbor, said Commissioner Bob Howard to the council. This will institute a 32 percent increase in fees over the same period.
Another change to watch for is charging boats for slip space at the harbor by size. Smaller vessels currently are charged more per linear foot than the larger boats, Howard said. “Boats are getting wider and beefier. We’re looking at per square foot as a more equitable way to identify who should pay what costs in the harbor.”
The new fees would not go into use this year, but would be charged for new leases next year, he said. The fees in the future would increase along with the cost of living index in order to keep up. “We’ve allowed ourselves to fall behind and when it comes to getting caught up we increase rates every year.” That upsets people more than if they kept fee increases parallel to the cost of living index.
• A measure to outlaw e-cigarettes in public buildings and vehicles owned by the City of Homer passed at the Monday night meeting. Councilman David Lewis had argued the law was needed in order to set an example and make a statement about the problems with smoking.
Councilman Burgess, casting the lone dissenting vote, said it’s premature to regulate e-cigarettes since there is no evidence so far that it presents a hazard to health. Mayor Wythe wanted the measure in case future studies prove the e-cigarettes are harmful to public health in terms of second-hand smoke.
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