The Alaska Department of Transportation has begun accepting bids for a long-delayed project that will bring big changes to downtown Juneau traffic.
At a community meeting Wednesday night, state officials told downtown Juneau residents that a contractor may begin an effort to repave Egan Drive between 10th Street and Main Street as soon as this winter. The project, which will cost between $10 million and $20 million, will last for at least two summer construction seasons and is expected to aggravate tourist-season traffic. According to DOT documents, “impacts (are) unavoidable.”
“Traffic impacts will be unavoidable, but we’ve tried to design the project in a way that minimizes them,” said Aurah Landau, a spokeswoman for the department’s southcoast region.
According to project documents, the effort will widen the roadway and relocate or adjust the flower-filled median “to accommodate the addition of bike lanes and wider sidewalks.” Egan will be widened seaward, and a 1,300-foot-long retaining wall will be constructed along the ocean side to hold the earth in place.
The existing concrete retaining wall beneath the Merchants’ Wharf building will be repaired, and the timber retaining wall beneath the building’s parking lot will be replaced. Gold Creek Bridge will be refurbished, and there will be new utility lines, new storm drains, new traffic signals and new signs for drivers and pedestrians.
According to bid documents, the project is expected to wrap up by fall 2020, but the construction deadline has already slipped by several years.
In 2015, the state said it expected to solicit bids the following year and finish the project by 2018. Last year, DOT preconstruction engineer Pat Carroll told the Juneau Chamber of Commerce that work would begin that year and finish in 2018.
Landau said by phone that the project was delayed for the same reasons that the project is likely to cause traffic headaches: There’s simply not much room between businesses and the highway downtown.
Project managers needed to work with property owners to get construction easements, she said.
“Because the corridor is so constricted, the construction is going to impact those businesses, and we had to work with those businesses and make sure we were minimizing impacts,” she said.
Before construction begins, the department will hold meetings with residents and provide regular construction updates by radio, newspaper and the internet to make sure residents know what parts of the street will be blocked.