An Anchorage trail project funded by CARES Act money and sold as a jobs project is unfinished and the nonprofit group that has the grant to build the trail wants the public to stay off of it until spring.
The group, Singletrack Advocates, put a notice on Facebook saying the new trail is not completed, and the group fears damage may be done by overeager users of the trail, which goes from the Glen Alps parking lot to the Prospect Heights parking lot.
“Please stay off the Hemlock Burn Trail in Chugach State Park. The trail is still closed because construction is not yet finished. Please hold off on using the trail until it is finished and open this up coming spring. Thanks!” the group wrote, hopefully.
The trail corridor has been over 90% cleared and the trail itself has been finished from Glen Alps to White Spruce.
Earlier this year, before the snow stuck, users were on the trail, and the nonprofit said they were damaging it with their footprints, which will make work take longer in the spring.
But for weeks the trail has been covered with snow and has been used by bikers, skiers, and hikers. Users say it’s safe and fun to use, and they don’t understand what the concern is, since the snow is deep.
“The bottom line is people are being banned from using Anchorage’s most expensive trail ever built,” wrote one critic. “COVID money well spent? No.”
He noted that the first bike trails at Kincaid Park cost $1,500 per kilometer to build, with lots of volunteer labor used. The Hemlock Burn Trail is costing taxpayers $450,000 per kilometer to build, 300 times Anchorage’s first single track trail system.
The multi-million project was sold as a jobs and also also as a mental health project, based on the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Project Administration public works projects that were popped up during the Great Depression to employ Americans out of work.
A total of $4.5 million for these trail projects around Anchorage came from the $157 million in funding that Anchorage received from the CARES Act grant was directed. The trails project was heavily pushed through the Assembly liberal majority by State Rep. Zack Fields, who sold it as a job training program.
More about the trail can be found at the Singletrack Advocates website.
The trail builders employed this summer have now scattered to other professions, such as becoming ski lift operators in other states, and returning to college.