Planning Commission halts plan to move bus stop in front of home

The Juneau Planning Commission decided to hold off on a plan that would relocate the Davis Avenue bus stop a block down the road — and directly in front of a nearby house — at its meeting Tuesday.

Staff from the city’s Community Developmnet Department recommended moving the bus stop, which currently sits a block away from the intersection of Glacier Highway and Davis Avenue, because it has been causing traffic congestion. It is difficult for buses turning left onto Glacier Highway to cut across traffic and move into the left turn lane in less than 250 feet, according to Jake Lange, a planner with the CDD.

To give buses more space to prepare for the left turn, Lange and the CDD recommended moving the stop a block down the road. The problem, as the Planning Commission saw it, was that this put the bus stop, shelter and all, in front of a home.

“It is a unique situation to have the bus stop right there in their front yard,” Lange told the Planning Commission. He explained that there are other bus stops in the city that are in front of people’s houses but few, if any, include shelters.

Lange wasn’t the only person to note the novelty of the proposed location. Mary Alice McKeen, a Juneau resident and friend of the homeowners who would be impacted by the bus stop move, also said during public testimony the situation would be unique and burdensome.

“You will be asking this property owner and this family to experience a burden that no other property owner in Juneau has to experience,” she said.

The homeowners, Mukhya and Hari Dev Singh Khalsa, also testified against the proposed move at Tuesday’s meeting.

“My kitchen window, where I do dishes, points straight out to Davis Avenue, and I get to watch the traffic whenever I want,” Mukhya Khalsa said. “Moving the stop to my house doesn’t help buses turning left; it does nothing at all.”

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to wait until it has more information regarding another possible bus stop location on Glacier Highway before it decides what to do with the Davis Avenue bus stop.

It did, however, also vote unanimously to forward to the Assembly a plan to move the airport bus stop to a new location. The plan would move the bus stop, which is currently located near the airport’s main terminal, just up from the intersection of Yandukin and Shell Simmons drives, about 500 feet away.

Like the proposed move at Davis Avenue, this move is to reduce bus travel time and reduce traffic congestion.

The average cost to move a bus stop ranges from $15,000 to $30,000, depending on how much work needs to be done, said Paul Beck a project manager with the city’s engineering department.

Tuesday marked the Planning Commission’s first meeting since the Juneau Assembly voted to remove the commission’s chairwoman, Nicole Grewe, on Feb. 29. The commission voted to make Ben Haight the commission’s new chair. Paul Voelckers will take over as vice chair, and Michael LeVine will assume the role of clerk.

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