A downtown stretch of Egan Drive is going to become easier for pedestrians and bike traffic, but not before a year-long construction project.
Starting this fall, the Alaska Department of Transportation will work on Egan, running from 10th Street to Main Street. This $10 million project is specifically aiming to repave the entire stretch, add bike lanes, add sidewalks and reconfigure traffic patterns. It is scheduled to begin this fall and finish up in fall 2018.
As he spoke to the Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, DOT preconstruction engineer Pat Carroll acknowledged that construction on Egan Drive usually makes travel inconvenient for a while. The sound of cars driving by on Egan was in the background as Carroll spoke to the group, gathered at Hangar on the Wharf.
“We are working on a phasing plan to try and do this work with as little impact as we can,” Carroll said, “knowing that this is a very important piece of road and the summertime is not the best time to have that completely torn up.”
The summer is the most feasible time for DOT to repave the road, Carroll said, as weather conditions are much better. Still, the department will look to do as much in the winter months as possible.
The traffic pattern changes include an added left turn lane for traffic coming from downtown on Willoughby Avenue, and putting a center turn lane on Egan between Willoughby and Main, with one lane of traffic going each way. Carroll said this was the best plan for making the street wide enough for new bike lanes and sidewalks.
Pedestrian crossings are also part of the plan, as DOT is looking to put “refuge islands” in the center of the road allowing for pedestrians to have a spot to stop halfway instead of running across the full street at once.
This endeavor comes a year after another large repaving project on Egan a year ago. In 2016, the DOT repaved eight miles of Egan Drive, spanning from 10th Street to Mendenhall Loop Road.
The other major project set to take place this year is on Glacier Highway between Fritz Cove Road and Seaview Avenue. Carroll said the DOT is looking to spend $13.8 million on this one-mile stretch, improving the curbs and gutters, adding new sidewalks, installing highway street lights and smoothing out a particularly sharp turn.
The construction will not affect the roundabout in the middle of that stretch, Carroll said. There will be a center turn lane installed from the roundabout to Seaview as well.
Douglas Highway will also undergo construction work, as a $400,000 sidewalk extension will run from Gastineau School to Crow Hill Drive. That project is funded by Safe Routes to School, a national organization that promotes safety while walking or biking to school.
This year’s DOT construction projects are mostly federally funded, Carroll said, as about 90 percent of the estimated $25.5 million spent on projects this year in Juneau comes from the federal government.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.