By Kirsten Swann
Preliminary designs for a new fire station on Bragaw Street include three bays and 10 dorm rooms but no immediate plan for dealing with traffic.
Architects and engineers from two local firms introduced the plans at a Mountain View Community Council meeting Monday night. The proposal involves rebuilding the Anchorage Fire Department’s Station 3 — currently located on Airport Heights Drive — on a one-and-a-quarter-acre lot in front of the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School. AFD said problems with the Airport Heights property made it necessary to relocate the station, and engineers found that moving the station could also help decrease emergency response times in parts of Mountain View. While the fire department aims to respond to calls within four minutes, it doesn’t always happen.
“Statistics show that Mountain View was very uncovered; specifically the northeastern corner of Mountain View,” said Tanya Hickok, a project manager with Dowl HKM. “Mountain View also has very high call numbers.”
Rebuilding Station 3 on Bragaw could help shave valuable seconds off the time it takes to respond to those calls.
The Anchorage Assembly has approved the fire department’s request to purchase the Bragaw lot for around $1 million, but plans for the new station still have to pass muster with the municipal Urban Design Commission. Blase Burkhart, of Burkhart Croft Architects, said the case is scheduled for a hearing in early December.
Meanwhile, traffic on Bragaw Street, directly in front of the future station, is a growing concern.
“I’m a pretty firm believer that we’re going to have an accident there,” said Joseph Cizek, an AFD engineer assigned to Station 3.
Much of the traffic came with the school: Burkhart said the cultural charter school attracts more than twice as much traffic as its predecessor, Pacific Northern Academy.
With the new Station 3 set to bring an engine, a truck and a medic unit to the already busy lot, Burkhart said he recommended installing an Opticom controller at the light in front of the future Bragaw Street station. The tiny, white sensors allow first responders to turn lights green to make way for oncoming emergency vehicles.
“Given this location, I thought they would have one immediately outside their driveway, but so far MOA traffic has not been supportive of that,” Burkhart said. “From my experience — I’m not a traffic expert so I shouldn’t be on too big of a high horse — but I’ve done a few stations before and I think it just seems like the right idea.
Stephanie Mormilo, the municipal traffic engineer, did not immediately return requests for comment Tuesday.
Construction on the new station is tentatively scheduled to begin next spring.