This Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities map shows the study area for a proposed second crossing between Juneau and Douglas Island. (Courtesy Image / DOT&PF)

This Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities map shows the study area for a proposed second crossing between Juneau and Douglas Island. (Courtesy Image / DOT&PF)

City, state join to consider second Juneau-Douglas crossing

Juneau officials are attempting to make progress on a possible second crossing to Douglas Island, which has been studied since the early 1980s without much action, by partnering with the state in a process that began publicly Wednesday with the first of three public meetings providing information and seeking input.

The Zoom virtual open house focusing on a possible transportation corridor connecting Juneau with the north end of Douglas Island is the first step in a process that will include environmental review and proposed crossing alternatives, said Marie Heidemann, Juneau Field Office Planning Chief for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, which is taking the lead role in what’s officially titled the Juneau Douglas North Crossing PEL Study.

“As the title suggested this is a more robust process than we at times have been able to be engaged with,” she said.

But any action won’t be a speedy process since the other open houses are set for undetermined dates in the fall 2022 and spring of 2023. A common question among locals interested in the crossing is why building it — or a decision not to — isn’t already happening, and how those past efforts will affect the new process.

“A lot of people know this project has been studied many times over the years and want to know how that prior work plays into what we’re doing today,” said Steve Noble, practice lead for the transportation sector of DOWL, a planning, surveying and engineering company contracted as a partner in the project. “The answer to that is fairly simple. We’re starting a whole new process…(but) the work that was done previously still has value and helps inform our process.”

The city’s partnership with DOT&PF will use what’s known as the Planning and Environmental Linkages process “to identify and evaluate a purpose and need for connecting Juneau with Douglas Island.”

“Douglas Island Bridge accommodates over 14,000 vehicles per day,” a summary of the partnership notes. “Delay is apparent during morning and evening peak periods also impacting intersection operations on either side of the bridge. When road closures are needed for maintenance or in an emergency, there are limited alternative accesses available between Douglas Island and Juneau. Active transportation facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists are only provided on one side of the bridge.”

Previous studies also highlighted the potential for residential, commercial, industrial and port development on west Douglas Island as a reason for a second crossing.

A map of the study area shows it will span a triangle from the existing bridge downtown to Auke Bay to west of the North Douglas Launch Ramp. According to the Zoom presentation, the area was chosen to pick areas where previous areas identified possible crossings.

According to an announcement by the city, the collaborative process will assess:

Purpose and need for a north crossing between Juneau and Douglas Island.

Range of alternative locations for a north crossing.

Transportation improvements needed to support a north crossing on Douglas Island and mainland Juneau.

Forecast population and traffic growth through 2045.

Impacts to environmental resources, particularly recreational areas.

An initial presentation focusing on engineering, environmental and other process aspects of the partnership frustrated a Zoom audience member who identified himself as John (many others during the meeting only gave their first names) who said past studies have looked at many possible crossing locations over the years already and feels the human element was missing from the presentation.

“I want to know what the impacts are for we the people,” he said. “I don’t hear any conversion about we the people.”

A 2018 survey by the McDowell Group — now known as McKinley Research Group — showed more than three-quarters of surveyed residents support a North Douglas crossing, with 37% strongly supporting the idea. A total of 14% of respondents said they opposed the idea with 4% strongly opposed.

Information about the project and options for providing comments are available at www.jdnorthcrossing.com.

Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com.

More in News

Aurora forecast for the week of Nov. 27

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

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, right, and former Rep. Christopher Kurka, R-Wasilla, saw ethics complaints against them dismissed on Nov. 29. (Photos by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Committee dismisses complaints that two Alaska lawmakers committed ethics violations

The body charged with policing the ethics of members of the Alaska… Continue reading

A bus parks outside the entrance of Foodland IGA during the Southeast Alaska Food Bank’s annual Caring is Sharing Food Drive on Nov. 18. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
SNAP benefits backlog surges past 12,000 applicants again due to technical, staffing woes

State reportedly cleared year-long 14,000-person backlog, only to have new crisis erupt.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, Dec. 1, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Tree reflections and icy patterns on an East Glacier Trail pond Nov. 29. (Photo by Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots

To showcase our readers’ work to the widest possible audience, Wild Shots… Continue reading

Snow falls on the Alaska State Capitol on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Funding gap looms for Alaska’s domestic violence programs, but need for services is as high as ever

A major source of funding for Alaska’s domestic violence response has decreased… Continue reading

Hundreds walk the waterfront near Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza during the 2023 Juneau Maritime Festival in early May. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Survey: Residents increasingly negative about cruise tourism, but positive opinions still prevail

48% of respondents say overall impacts positive, 22% negative after record-high passenger season.

Most Read