Egan Drive work starts this week, and it’s not going to end any time soon.
Catherine Wilkins, Southcoast Region construction project manager for Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, outlined the two-year, $14.3 million project’s scope, goals and what drivers can expect to see this season during a Monday afternoon City and Borough of Juneau Public Works and Facilities Committee meeting.
“Obviously the big challenge is to keep traffic moving,” Wilkins said. “That’s technically the hardest part of this whole project. It’s not the asphalt or the culverts, it’s the traffic.”
Wilkins said there will be substantial changes to regular traffic patterns starting later this week.
“I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it painless,” Wilkins said. “But there will be pain.”’
The median located on Egan in between Willoughby and Main streets will be removed later this week, so all traffic will flow in one lane in both directions while work is done. The traffic signal at Egan Drive and Whittier Street will also be turned off in the coming days.
The light will be turned off because the traffic lanes won’t line up with the turn and a vehicle waiting to make a left-hand turn would bring traffic to a standstill, Wilkins said.
“At that point, you’ll be down to one lane in each direction because you’re in the active construction zone, so left turns are not going to be permitted,” Wilkins said. “That will be at least initially by signage. We’re not going to put up barricades.”
Capital City Fire/Rescue Fire Marshal Daniel Jager said during the meeting CCFR has been in touch with the Department of Transportation and is aware of which routes will work best when responding to emergencies.
Wilkins said motorists should pay attention to signs and traffic patterns during the duration of the project, and before hitting the road, people can go online to check the Alaska Navigator page for the project.
Planned new pedestrian crossings near the Four Points by Sheraton and near the start of the Sea Walk drew questions from Assembly members Michelle Bonnet Hale and Wade Bryson.
Bryson and Hale said it made sense for there to be some sort of electrified signal at the crossing, after Wilkinson mistakenly said during the meeting one was not planned for the spot.
However, after the meeting Wilkinson said by phone there will be one, it was included in the project’s plans and it will be similar to the light-up signage on Riverside Drive in the Mendenhall Valley.
Centennial Hall and the New JACC
City architect Nathan Coffee shared the newest developments for plans to renovate Centennial Hall during the meeting.
Four design options for what a revamped Centennial Hall could look like were shared during a May 30 meeting, and Coffee said the option that received the most positive feedback was one that maintained independent north and south entries for Centennial Hall and a simple link to the New Juneau Arts & Culture Center.
The New JACC is a proposed improved replacement for the current JACC that has been through years of design work and fundraising efforts.
Another takeaway from the meeting, Coffee said, is that Centennial Hall may not need as much new space as was initially thought to work as an attractive convention destination.
“We felt like additional meeting spaces, perhaps we don’t need as many additional meeting spaces in Centennial Hall proper if there is a nice link to the New JACC,” Coffee said.
He said Paul Voelckers, architect and President for MRV Architects, is working on a new scheme for Centennial Hall that incorporates those ideas.
Hale said Centennial Hall improvements are expected to come up at a 5:30 p.m. June 25 special meeting to discuss the proposed New JACC project.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.