More than 80 Juneau residents gathered at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library on Tuesday night, ready to share their thoughts on the future of the most talked-about intersection in Juneau.
The Department of Transportation & Public Facilities hosted the talk, presenting the initial findings of a study into the safety and traffic flow through the intersection of Egan Drive and Yandukin Drive, near Fred Meyer. The study, done by Kinney Engineering, will be finalized in March but has found that the intersection had the eighth-most crashes in Juneau and the third-most crashes resulting in injuries (from 2005-2014).
The study has also identified three possible changes to the intersection that could make it safer: putting a traffic signal at the intersection; extending Glacier Highway behind Fred Meyer to the so-called McNugget Intersection and eliminating left turns at the Fred Meyer intersection; and creating an overpass so Egan Drive can run unaffected and exit ramps can lead to Fred Meyer and Yandukin Drive.
Community members young and old offered feedback and asked questions for about 45 minutes Tuesday. Kinney Transportation Engineer Jeanne Bowie led the discussion while DOT&PF Project Manager Darryl Lester also answered questions. Ideas flew, from temporary solutions such as putting rumble strips in the area to slow people down to sharing support for more permanent changes.
The concept that got particularly positive feedback from the attendees was the one to extend Glacier Highway to the McNugget intersection. There were multiple comments about how a traffic signal might not be enough, and how the creation of the overpass could be too expensive (Lester provided a very rough estimate of $25-30 million for an overpass) and too inconvenient to traffic on Egan. With construction taking place on Glacier Highway instead, one community member said during the meeting, construction (and thus delays) would be kept away from Juneau’s busiest road.
Multiple times, Lester used the construction project at Sunny Point as a measuring stick for a possible overpass at the Fred Meyer intersection. From 2007-2009, DOT&PF constructed an overpass at the intersection of Egan and Glacier Highway near the former Walmart building. The project cost $27 million.
Lester made clear during the meeting that there are no imminent decisions coming. DOT&PF is asking for public feedback much earlier in the process than usual, so he and Bowie didn’t have many answers when it came to timelines or environmental studies.
Many of the people in attendance filled out comment cards before they left, and DOT&PF officials were taking notes throughout the meeting to record the comments that were given verbally in the meeting. Comments will remain open on the DOT&PF website until Jan. 12.
Barbara Learmonth, who lives out the road and works downtown, deals with the intersection on a daily basis. She has lived in Juneau for 40 years and said she’s had multiple friends and family members get injured at the intersection.
The meeting was more informative than she expected it to be and the task at hand is even larger than she originally thought, she said.
“I came in with kind of a preconceived notion, and now I can see that there are a lot of things to weigh,” Learmonth said, “and there are ideas that weren’t even presented here but that were raised by the audience, just a lot of considerations. I really appreciate these kinds of meetings to share the information and take our comments.”
How to submit feedback
Deadline: Jan. 12, 2018
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.