The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday night urging the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to take “immediate action” to make substantial safety improvements to the intersection of Egan Drive and Yandukin Drive, a location which some officials and residents call the among the most dangerous in Juneau.
The resolution’s passing follows more than a dozen serious and sometimes fatal vehicle crashes at the Fred Meyer intersection during the past decade, with the state so far only offering recommendations for a “temporary fix” to improve safety. Work on that fix is scheduled to start Nov. 1.
According to DOT statistics between 2013 and 2022, there were 13 collisions during that period at that intersection which resulted in minor injuries and four collisions which resulted in serious injuries.
“The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly strongly encourages the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to identify project funding in the 2024-2027 Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan to design and construct safety improvements identified in the Planning and Environmental Linkages Study including a signalized intersection with a protected pedestrian crossing and Glacier Lemon Spur extension,” the resolution states.
The resolution identifies the DOT project, known as the Highway Safety Improvement Program project, as a “temporary fix,” but urges for more substantial upgrades.
The HSIP project, scheduled between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31, will lower the speed limit through the corridor to 45 mph, from the current 55 mph. It will also alter the positioning of the left-turn lanes in both directions on Egan Drive in an attempt to improve drivers’ line of sight and reduce the travel distance necessary to clear opposing traffic, an official description of the project states.
Mayor Beth Weldon made an objection to give a statement before the resolution’s passing, saying she didn’t necessarily agree lowering the speed limit is an adequate solution. However, she ultimately rescinded the objection.
“I just don’t think that’s the greatest solution whatsoever,” she said. “Out of curiosity I drove 55 (mph) on Egan Drive going into town and I was by far the slowest car on the road. I don’t think changing the speed limit is going to change the speed of the vehicles too much.”
She said the “obvious answer” is to stop the left-hand turn into Fred Meyer.
Possible solutions to improve the safety of the location have existed for years, with a traffic signal at the intersection and extending the road behind Fred Meyer to provide an alternative access route declared the preferred option in a DOT analysis published in August of 2021. However, no steps toward funding or beginning the permitting process for that project are in the works, DOT and local officials said in June.
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