After more than a dozen serious and sometimes fatal vehicle crashes at Juneau’s Fred Meyer intersection during the past decade with only recommendations for a “temporary fix” by the state’s transportation department to improve its safety, the Juneau Assembly plans to take the matter into its own hands later this week.
On Wednesday evening the Assembly is set to host a special meeting including a resolution which — if passed — would formally urge 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.
According to DOT statistics tracked 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.
Just last week it was reported one person was sent to the hospital with injuries after a two-vehicle collision at the intersection, according to Juneau Police Department spokesperson Lt. Krag Campbell.
Prior to that incident, a crash at the location in early June resulted in one fatality and required four others to be medevaced. Days following that incident, Assembly member Michelle Bonnet Hale shared she planned to work to develop the resolution now on Wednesday’s agenda.
“I wanted to be around to help draft the resolution because it is very important for Juneau and it keeps happening, it’s not going to stop happening,” she said in an interview Monday.
Possible solutions to improve the safety of the location have existed for years when a traffic signal at the intersection and extending the road behind Fred Meyer to provide an alternative access route was 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.
Hale said she hopes the passing of the city resolution will help change that.
“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.
Some work intended to improve safety is scheduled for completion by October at the intersection, such as approving a more limited Highway Safety Improvement Program project, which was awarded in April to a construction company.
The approved project will lower the speed limit through the corridor to 45 mph, from the current 55 mph, between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31. 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.
Despite the changes outlined in the project, the city’s resolution calls the project “a temporary fix” and “does not negate the need for substantial improvements to the intersection.”
The resolution is open for public comment before the Assembly’s Wednesday vote, according to a city announcement.
“There is a problem with the system itself and not the individual drivers,” Hale said. “I think it is important not to blame the individual drivers, but rather we have created a system that encourages people to do things that result in accidents and fatalities.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651) 528-1807.