CARES Act trail is partially done, but closed to public - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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CARES Act trail is partially done, but closed to public

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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.

Pioneers users of the Hemlock Burn Trail were punching through mud this fall.

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.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • On their website the estimated cost was $150,000 to $200,000. Where did the rest of the $4.8 million go? This needs to be investigated immediately. Small business sure could have used that money.

      • I am curious where you got your numbers for this story. Jamie Allard mentions 3 million dollars of cares act funding. This matches what the ADN reported that assembly appropriated $3 million to fund jobs on municipal land. the bulk of the money would fund wildfire mitigation efforts in the city’s wooded areas, such as clearing dead trees along the trail system.
        You repeated the claim the trail will cost $450,000 a kilometer. How did you verify this number? The builders claim the trail will cost $236,500 dollars. They have hired a contractor so I imagine that price would be somewhat accurate. The trail is approximately 8 kilometers. That is a cost of around $29,500 a kilometer. If you use the 3 million number it is $375,000 a kilometer. If you use your 4.5 million number the cost is $562,500 a kilometer.
        Perhaps you could clarify the math for me.

  • Sorry, $4.3 million missing.

  • With the ground frozen and snow covered it is more than protected for use this winter.

  • A job training program? Now there’s a lifelong skill for a temporary job…shoveling! They just keep shoveling sh_t at us. That’s an awful lot of money to improve skills and mental health. All of the stress you have over your failing business and hungry family while your home is in foreclosure will be whisked away if you just step upon this trail when they allow you to! What a fraud and abuse of funds. The circus continues…

  • Now that the lefties have figured out how to never lose another election, malfeasance like this will become the rule rather than the exception.

  • Is this trail the scar I can see now as I look.at the mountains traveling up Tudor? If it is it looks like hell. Our unspoiled view of the mountains is gone forever.

    • No, I believe you can thank the JBER military industrial complex for that one.

  • News flash, Chugach State Park is State land and NOT under the purview of the Municipality of Anchorage. Anyone that wants to use it, can use it and the Muni can’t say shit. The assembly and their continual attempts at overreach into areas in which they have zero jurisdiction amazes me. The pure idiocy of spending money that is much needed by local business building trails in a state park is remarkable.

  • Typical politician wasting money.

    • But you never will see disclosure. Someone’s having a real nice Christmas with all that money. And all’s you got was another single track that you aren’t allowed to use. You’ve all been made a fool. Don’t stand for the abuse.

  • BS, our tax dollars paid for it one way or another. Completed or not, trail open and I plan on using it all winter

  • As soon as it warms up, have the world’s biggest ATV parade on it. Do it.

    • 😆 Ok two wrongs do not make right. Would love some disclosure but not going to destroy a trail for intended use. We have enough ATV destruction in southcentral AK.

  • This article is chocked full of BS. The entire project will cost less than $450k. Stop the ridiculous spread of misinformation.

    • Greg, please explain how sums of moolah that ostensibly was supposed to help offset damage to individuals and business from “Covid-19” mandates, ended up being spent on a new trail? I am pro-trail Greg, just do not understand how this worked. Meanwhile there is real harm and pain to the small business sector. Wasn’t this work performed by a “non-profit”. At the very least it should have gone out for an open and verifiable public bid, giving qualified local contractors a chance to get this work. We never will know how badly this money was wasted will we? But, that’s the leftist / Fascist way, right Greg?
      Any dissent must be crushed and the speaker of dissent shamed and ridiculed. The junta in power is wise and benevolent and should never be questioned, those that do question the leaders get the treatment described above. Does it ever bother you that you live in a third world republic? Or more like a tribal system run by a witch-doctor? Just wondering Greg.

      • The non profit hired a private contractor, that is creating real jobs putting people to work. Also the majority of the 3 million was put towards fire mitigation. Creating jobs for people clearing dead trees and brush. You know doing what Trump keeps telling California to do. Unless MRA can support her numbers she is just passing on misinformation. As far as not letting people on the trail. I agree there probably is not a problem when frozen. However from reading about the project they are close to final grading. I know from road construction allowing traffic on your project before paving or final surfacing does add cost to the project. I will add in my opinion instead of just handing out the extra $600 and $300 to people for unemployment there should of been a work requirement.

        • Who was the contractor? Did it go out to bid? Of course they should wait until completion before using, I agree. I love trails but in this situation and given the purpose of CARES, I would like to see disclosure.

        • Clearing dead wood would definitely help for fire prevention. I’d like to see more of it across the country. But this money should have been used 100% to support the businesses the Anchorage mayor destroyed. For pragmatic reasons as much as ideological. You have no public sector without the private sector. The public sector produces no wealth. It can, provide things conducive to wealth, but without those willing to work, innovate, and risk capital, it cannot be sustained, unless it starts conscripting citizens.

  • Maybe we can get Rudy to investigate this.

    • Sadly there aren’t enough retired federal prosecutors to investigate all the left wing grift and fraud that is rampant in our nation. Fraud and theft of both votes and money from the public is not just endemic to the left, it’s a pillar of their ideology; it’s essentially a religious tenant of their faith.

  • There is no such thing as an honest “non-profit” in this country!

  • Regardless of the total cost, “IF” Cares Act money is used to help pay for this project it is political theft of important funds for small businesses that are being crushed by the government. I challenge anyone to point out a single State employee that has been permanently laid off or permanently furloughed without pay directly due to this government created covid crisis. The government has forced small businesses to close while refusing to lay off any of its own employees, and then has the nerve to misappropriate Cares Act funds for wasteful projects such as this? This should be criminal.
    Where is Governor Dunleavy’s outrage and leadership? His little Super Dave spokesman sure had a lot to say when he was on the radio about things like this. His silence regarding these matters along with the Anchorage Mayor and Assembly lawlessness is absolutely unacceptable.
    Show some damn leadership, and stop wasting money.

    • Right on. I want to second that. Lying, stealing politicians taking what’s theirs and ours for themselves.

  • Well this is what happens when the Liberals remove God out of their lives their Worship takes place in the great outdoors, the trail is their Idol and just as any gold idol statue its got to be respected and protected from vandalism. Eventually the great outdoors runs out of peace and becomes inadequate fulfilling their empty void.

  • As of yesterday I have walked all of the new trail. The map does not show how windy it is in the section between the intersection of Silver Fern & Gasline trails and Glen Alps. Nothing but ess curves. Single trackers will love going up it, useless for the rest of us. And then they will come flying back down Gasline or Powerline Trail expecting all other users to get out of their way. To spend sooo much money, however much it was, on a trail for a single use is outrageous, especially COVID money which should have gone to the businesses dying in this town. I doubt their employees can afford $2,000 and up for single track bikes to recreate while they are unemployed.

  • If the path’s on public property, created with CARES money, it seems reasonable to believe it is open to, or will be opened by, the public unless law-enforcement officials or Peoples Code Enforcers, –not the Singletrack Army–, dictate otherwise.

  • And Rome burns with more foolish spending. Make it a toll trail.

  • How many people were employed? How much of the money went into direct wages and how much into ‘administration’ , etc. Was it actually fruitful as a job provider? Seems if that was the intent then such figures should be available.

    On another note, we need to work fervently to get rid of mail in voting. Statewide.

    • yes!

  • A “job training project?” What sort of training is entailed in “creating” a lineal mud puddle?

    Methinks there is financial skulduggery afoot…..! Who would have guessed?!!!

  • A center piece of stupidity from the politicians. Rome burns but we waste money on a trail of tears.

  • The funny part is there was already a trail of sorts, I love trails.. Hate greed and theft. And all political parties and organizations steal under a guise. I donate to STA but dislike how they are acting of late. I was going to put them in my will but standing by now to see how they behave. So I do expect this one sided “Karen” who wrote the article to follow up with an investigation or evidence on her numbers? After all it was not long ago a major highway cost 1/2 million a mile!!

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