Police and fire officials respond to an injury accident at the Fred Meyer intersection on Saturday, Dec. 23. Limited safety improvements at the intersection scheduled for completion by Oct. 31 have not been finished due to supply chain and other issues, according to a state transportation department spokesperson. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Police and fire officials respond to an injury accident at the Fred Meyer intersection on Saturday, Dec. 23. Limited safety improvements at the intersection scheduled for completion by Oct. 31 have not been finished due to supply chain and other issues, according to a state transportation department spokesperson. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Safety upgrades at Fred Meyer intersection still awaiting completion two months after due date

Supply chain issues hamper speed limit signs, weather delays work on turn lanes, according to DOT.

Safety improvements scheduled for completion by Oct. 31 at the Fred Meyer intersection, considered among Juneau’s most dangerous traffic spots, are not yet in place due to supply chain and weather issues, according to an Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesperson.

The scheduled upgrades — new signs imposing a seasonal 45 mph speed limit between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31, and altering the positioning of the left-turn lanes in both directions — are far more limited than recommendations made by the state in 2021. The more extensive upgrades include a traffic signal and extending the road behind Fred Meyer to provide an alternative through route.

[Limited safety changes planned soon at Fred Meyer intersection]

The placards for the speed limit signs have been installed, allowing the limit to be changed between 45 mph and 55 mph, depending on the season, along with signs showing the dates of the season changes, Sam Dapcevich, a DOT spokesperson, stated in an email Tuesday. But the change cannot occur yet.

“The important component affected by supply chain issues is radar feedback signs,” he wrote. “These signs need to be in place before we can implement seasonal speed limit reductions.”

Also, the lane delineation work has been delayed until at least spring, even though the contractor for the project had an original deadline date of Oct. 31, Dapcevich wrote.

“The current striping is inlayed methyl methacrylate (MMA) that must be grinded out,” he wrote. “And we can’t leave the grooves because it would create ponding in the traffic lanes. So the work will involve grinding out about 1.5 to 2 inches of asphalt through the intersection location. It will then be paved over and new lines will be ground out and filled with MMA striping. This work has minimum temperature and dry weather requirements that were not met this fall.”

Public attention about the hazards at the intersection of Egan Drive and Yandukin Drive got renewed intensity when a two-vehicle collision June 10 killed one person and required four others to be medevaced. Additional collisions have occurred since, including a two-vehicle collision at midday Saturday that resulted in one person being taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital for treatment, according to the Juneau Police Department.

The Juneau Assembly unanimously passed a resolution Sept. 6 asking DOT “to identify project funding in the 2024-2027 Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan to design and construct safety improvements identified in the Planning and Environmental Linkages Study including a signalized intersection with a protected pedestrian crossing and Glacier Lemon Spur extension.”

Mayor Beth Weldon, while voting for the resolution, said beforehand she wasn’t in favor of the lower 45 mph speed limit since — based on her being by far the slowest driver at 55 mph on the way to the meeting — it appeared likely drivers will continue to exceed the speed limit even if it is lowered.

Assembly member Michelle Bonnet Hale, who was among those advocating for the resolution following the fatal accident in June, said Tuesday a subsequent discussion between city and DOT officials suggested the passage of the request was meaningful.

“The communication that we had with DOT was that it was a very good thing that CBJ had passed that resolution,” she said. “It makes them take it more seriously.”

The more extensive upgrades recommended by the state and urged by the Assembly were not in the initial draft of the revised Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) for 2024-27 and aren’t in the current version following a public comment period. State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, a Juneau Democrat, said Tuesday the plan is subject to further amendments, which typically involve a five- to six-month timespan.

Dapcevich stated DOT “has high hopes of achieving funding for a signalized intersection at Egan (and) Yandukin, and we’re seeking grant funding for the entire project.”

“We’ve begun (right-of-way) acquisition discussions with the U.S. Forest Service for the greater project, which is a 2-3 year process,” he wrote. “We’ve done additional ROW investigation using state overhead funds. We hope to be able to share more positive news in the near future.”

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

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