A sign with newly installed reflectors warns drivers on Back Loop Road about pedestrians crossing near the entrance of Mendenhall River Community School on Wednesday morning. A woman and two kids were hit by a vehicle on the road Dec. 7, prompting local school district officials to seek safety improvements from the state. Additional short- and long-term safety measures are still being discussed. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A sign with newly installed reflectors warns drivers on Back Loop Road about pedestrians crossing near the entrance of Mendenhall River Community School on Wednesday morning. A woman and two kids were hit by a vehicle on the road Dec. 7, prompting local school district officials to seek safety improvements from the state. Additional short- and long-term safety measures are still being discussed. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Back Loop Road near school where pedestrians hit gets some safety improvements, more being discussed

Sign reflectors installed, upgraded entrance lighting and change to city bus route expected soon.

Some safety improvements are underway on Back Loop Road near Mendenhall River Community School, where three pedestrians were hit by a vehicle last month, and more are being considered both in the short- and long-term, according to city and school district officials.

Reflectors have been placed on warning signs approaching the school’s entrance and upgraded lighting is scheduled to be installed soon at the entrance itself, Juneau School District Superintendent Frank Hauser said Tuesday. He said changing some of the city bus stops near the school, which are along an unlit stretch of the road, is also a possibility.

[School district asks state for safety improvements on Back Loop Road near school following collision]

“I’ve had conversations with Capital Transit about the possibility of moving some of the city bus stops to more well-lit areas and potentially working to help if there are any students that are on the bus to transport them the rest of the way to the school from the bus stop rather than potentially crossing Back Loop Road,” he told the Juneau Board of Education during its meeting Tuesday night.

A overhead view of the area surrounding Mendenhall River Community School shows a plan to relocate a Capital Transit bus stop from Back Loop Road to the less-traveled Tournure Street, which is expected to occur in February. (Google image modified by the City and Borough of Juneau)

A overhead view of the area surrounding Mendenhall River Community School shows a plan to relocate a Capital Transit bus stop from Back Loop Road to the less-traveled Tournure Street, which is expected to occur in February. (Google image modified by the City and Borough of Juneau)

The upgraded high-performance LED lighting at the school’s entrance, where one of the city bus stops is, should be ready for installation soon, Hauser said.

The collision that sparked the current concerns occurred shortly before school began at 8 a.m. on Dec. 7, about 40 minutes before sunrise, when a woman with two children sustained injuries that were not life-threatening. The driver of the vehicle was not cited because he was not found to be at fault, according to the Juneau Police Department.

Hauser, the following week, told the school board he was asking the Alaska Department of Transporation and Public Facilities to consider safety improvements since the state, rather than the City and Borough of Juneau, is responsible for the road. A preliminary meeting he described as productive took place between school, city and DOT officials on Dec. 18.

“The Department of Transportation has already increased visual aids around (the school) with flags on the signs indicating a school zone and they’re also looking at other possible flashing caution lights as possible short-term solutions,” he said. “For the long term the Department of Transportation is starting to collect student pedestrian and vehicular traffic data, and is going to put together a gap analysis on Back Loop Road. The analysis will help with potential safety grants that the Department of Transportation might be able to apply for to provide additional safety improvements to the roadway.”

A public meeting by the school board’s facilities committee to discuss safety options along the road is scheduled Jan. 18, which a DOT traffic safety engineer will attend, Hauser said.

Among the options the city considered was lighting at the nearby Capital Transit bus stops, but complications arose with providing electricity in the state’s right-of-way zone, Juneau City Manager Katie Koester wrote in an email Tuesday. She stated “the more elegant and safe solution” is eliminating the bus stop across the street from the entrance of the school, which is little-used, and rerouting the Valley Express bus that stopped there to another pedestrian access point to the school on Tournure Street, which connects to Riverside Drive.

“Capital Transit is still working on some logistical details, but this change should take effect in February,” she wrote.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Juneau School District administrators and board members review the updated budget for the current fiscal year during a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The Juneau School District had a $9.5M projected deficit this year. It’s now a $633,185 surplus. How is that possible?

Resignation of 34 employees since January, health insurance savings among reasons, officials say.

Rep. Sara Hannan (right) offers an overview of this year’s legislative session to date as Rep. Andi Story and Sen. Jesse Kiehl listen during a town hall by Juneau’s delegation on Thursday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Multitude of education issues, budget, PFD among top areas of focus at legislative town hall

Juneau’s three Democratic lawmakers reassert support of more school funding, ensuring LGBTQ+ rights.

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, mayor of the Inupiaq village of Nuiqsut, at the area where a road to the Willow project will be built in the North Slope of Alaska, March 23, 2023. The Interior Department said it will not permit construction of a 211-mile road through the park, which a mining company wanted for access to copper deposits. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Biden shields millions of acres of Alaskan wilderness from drilling and mining

The Biden administration expanded federal protections across millions of acres of Alaskan… Continue reading

Allison Gornik plays the lead role of Alice during a rehearsal Saturday of Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland,” which will be staged at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé for three days starting Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
An ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that requires quick thinking on and off your feet

Ballet that Juneau Dance Theatre calls its most elaborate production ever opens Friday at JDHS.

Caribou cross through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in their 2012 spring migration. A 211-mile industrial road that the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority wants to build would pass through Gates of the Arctic and other areas used by the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, one of the largest in North America. Supporters, including many Alaska political leaders, say the road would provide important economic benefits. Opponents say it would have unacceptable effects on the caribou. (Photo by Zak Richter/National Park Service)
Alaska’s U.S. senators say pending decisions on Ambler road and NPR-A are illegal

Expected decisions by Biden administration oppose mining road, support more North Slope protections.

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 13. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House members propose constitutional amendment to allow public money for private schools

After a court ruling that overturned a key part of Alaska’s education… Continue reading

Danielle Brubaker shops for homeschool materials at the IDEA Homeschool Curriculum Fair in Anchorage on Thursday. A court ruling struck down the part of Alaska law that allows correspondence school families to receive money for such purchases. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers to wait on Alaska Supreme Court as families reel in wake of correspondence ruling

Cash allotments are ‘make or break’ for some families, others plan to limit spending.

Most Read