A police vehicle blocks the left turn lane from Egan Drive into Yandukin Drive on Saturday after a two-vehicle collision killed one person and seriously injured four others. Changes intended to improve drivers’ line of sight when making left turns on both sides of Egan Drive are scheduled to be complete by October. But state officials said Monday more significant changes recommended in a 2021 study, including a traffic signal and an alternative detour lane, are still on hold and will likely take a long time to get through the regulatory process. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

A police vehicle blocks the left turn lane from Egan Drive into Yandukin Drive on Saturday after a two-vehicle collision killed one person and seriously injured four others. Changes intended to improve drivers’ line of sight when making left turns on both sides of Egan Drive are scheduled to be complete by October. But state officials said Monday more significant changes recommended in a 2021 study, including a traffic signal and an alternative detour lane, are still on hold and will likely take a long time to get through the regulatory process. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Limited safety changes planned soon at Fred Meyer intersection

Traffic light and detour route not part of upcoming work as fatal crash revives call for action

Work intended to improve safety is scheduled for completion by October at the Fred Meyer intersection, where a two-vehicle collision Saturday killed one person and required four others to be medevaced, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) said Monday.

However, the upgrades fall short of a traffic signal and alternative access extension the department recommended in 2021 due to other collisions that have prompted some officials and residents to call the intersection among the most dangerous in Juneau.

Approval of a more limited Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) project at the intersection was awarded in April to the construction company SEACON, according to the state contract bidding database.

The approved project will lower the speed limit through the corridor to 45 mph, from the current 55 mph, between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31. It will also alter the positioning of the left-turn lanes in both directions on Egan Drive in an attempt to improve drivers’ line of sight and reduce the travel distance necessary to clear opposing traffic, an official description of the project states.

“Improve delineation for the northbound right-turn movement from Egan (makes) it easier for southbound left-turn drivers to determine if opposing traffic is executing the right turn or continuing through the intersection,” the description of the project notes.

The start date for the work has not been set, but the bid’s completion date is Oct. 31, according to Sam Dapcevich, a DOT spokesperson.

A traffic signal at the intersection and extending the road behind Fred Meyer to provide an alternative access route were declared the preferred option in a DOT analysis published in August of 2021. But no steps toward funding or beginning the permitting process for that project are in the works, according to DOT and local officials.

“It’s a difficult and complicated process, and I am anxious to help move it as fast as possible,” state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, a Juneau Democrat, said Monday.

Kiehl, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said the project was not among those considered as part of the capital budget considered during this year’s session. He said the project will have to go through the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) since Egan Drive is a state highway, which he said will involve requirements including wetlands permitting, design approval and right-of-way acquisitions.

Meanwhile, Kiehl, who was part of a group evaluating possible improvements at the intersection that led to the DOT’s report, said he doesn’t believe the changes scheduled to take place during the coming months will result in a significant safety improvement.

“I was pretty clear during that process that I don’t have a lot of confidence the interim work will make much of a difference,” he said. “A speed limit sign in the winter when you don’t change much else isn’t going to slow people down.”

The issue was also briefly discussed at the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly meeting Monday night, with Assembly member Michelle Bonnet Hale saying she plans to work on a resolution relating to concerns about the intersection for future consideration.

“We know it’s an intersection of concern,” Assembly member Greg Smith said before the meeting.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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