Five possible fixes for a crash-prone Juneau intersection stand out from a field of 15 potential projects, according to Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. Those five options will be further evaluated and alternatives recommended next year, DOT said.
The intersection of Yandukin and Egan drives, which the department ranks as the third highest in injury crashes in Juneau over the past few years, was the subject of a Thursday night virtual open house hosted by DOT. A pre-recorded presentation identified safety as the main need that potential improvements could address and alternate routes in case of crashes, greater non-motorized accessibility and traffic flow as secondary needs a project could address.
What form an improvement project will take has yet to be identified, according to the department. Last year DOT held an open house where members of the public gave comment on 15 different alternatives. Following a review of public input and the various options, DOT has selected five alternatives for consideration moving forward.
Alternatives under consideration include adding traffic lights to control some or all of the flow of traffic through the intersection and extending the Glacier-Lemon Road, currently not passable to vehicles, to the intersection of Egan and Glacier Highway by the Nugget Mall. Of all the options presented in the public input phase, extending the Glacier-Lemon spur received the most comments, with 34. The second-most-recommended option was installing a traffic signal, but that option received only half as many comments.
Crash safety metrics and other criteria will be used to help screen those potential solutions. DOT hopes to have a recommended alternative proposed by early 2021, according to the project website. By spring 2021 DOT hopes the work on that process will be finish and open for summary report, including public comment.
In November last year DOT announced they intended to make changes at the intersections which it says isn’t the most dangerous in Juneau, but one that gets more dangerous during winter months. Another issue caused by the intersection is if it needs to be closed for an emergency such as a crash, traffic on Egan is essentially stuck, DOT told the Empire last year.
The frequency of crashes has risen in recent years, according to DOT data. Over 40% of crashes involve vehicles making left turns and 62% of crashes involve southbound drivers turning toward Fred Meyer. Over half of the crashes happen in November, December and January.
The Department said they wanted to generate public support for the project in order to make it more attractive for the Highway Safety Improvement Program, a dedicated state fund that has funded projects on Egan before, David Epstein, regional traffic and safety engineer for DOT previously told the Empire.
But regions of the state are in competition of HSIP money, Epstein said, and areas with larger populations typically receive more funding. DOT hopes that by presenting an alternative with demonstrable community support they can make a strong case for funding.
A separate safety project has been funded at the Egan-Yandukin intersection. It will be designed in 2021 and constructed in 2022.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.