Construction takes place at Mendenhall Loop Road and Stephen Richards Memorial Drive on Monday, June 9, 2020. Work on the roundabouts is expected to be completed by September. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Construction takes place at Mendenhall Loop Road and Stephen Richards Memorial Drive on Monday, June 9, 2020. Work on the roundabouts is expected to be completed by September. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Valley road construction closures ongoing till autumn

The project is ticking right along, according to the DOT.

This article has been updated to include comments from an Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesperson.

Construction of roundabouts on Mendenhall Loop Road is ramping up sharply with months yet to go.

The project, building a pair of roundabouts, will close access from Mendenhall Loop Road to the Floyd Dryden access road and Stephen Richards Memorial Drive until July 25, according to the project’s website.

According to the project website, the one-season project is meant to increase safety on Mendenhall Loop Road, particularly for parents and students near Floyd Dryden Middle School, as well as for pedestrians and cyclists.

It was originally a limited project that evolved to improve pedestrian safety as well after several pedestrian injuries and fatalities in those areas in the past, said Sam Dapcevich, an Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesperson in a phone interview.

“When it was originally set up, it was going to be a corridor improvement project to improve the flow of traffic,” Dapcevich said.

Traffic circles are a more elegant solution than traffic lights for improving things there, Dapcevich said.

“The main thing is they slow traffic down as it passes through the area,” Dapcevich said. “But at the same time, they don’t stop traffic like a light does. The traffic tends to keep moving better than when there’s a signalized intersection.”

Construction takes place at Mendenhall Loop Road and Stephen Richards Memorial Drive on Monday, June 9, 2020. Work on the roundabouts is expected to be completed by September. The project is expected to continue in stages until autumn. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Construction takes place at Mendenhall Loop Road and Stephen Richards Memorial Drive on Monday, June 9, 2020. Work on the roundabouts is expected to be completed by September. The project is expected to continue in stages until autumn. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

The project area will also be closed to pedestrians and bicyclists, and work will interfere with bus schedules. To assist with their movement, Capital Transit and SECON will provide a project shuttle to facilitate transit through the area.

“We’re going to put extra effort into finishing the Floyd Dryden intersection before school goes back in session,” Dapcevich said. “We intend to have both roundabouts running by the end of September, with maybe a few things to wrap up next year.”

In the area of Floyd Dryden, the intersection of El Camino Street and Mendenhall Loop Road is anticipated to go until July 25. Near Stephen Richards Memorial Drive, drivers will be able to turn right onto Stephen Richards from Mendenhall Loop Road, but will not be able to turn onto Mendenhall Loop Road from Stephen Richards. Left turns from Trinity Drive, Haloff Wa and Dudley Street will also be unavailable from Mendenhall Loop Road.

For now, the lack of tour bus traffic is helping move things right along, Dapcevich said.

“Lower traffic levels are definitely allowing them to be more efficient on the project,” Dapcevich said. “I’m told the project is moving along nicely. They’re not running into issues on the project.”

The next phase of the project will be to finish the Floyd Dryden traffic circle, beginning July 26 and ending Aug. 15. Following that will be the finishing the Stephen Richards traffic circle, beginning Aug. 15 and ending by Sept. 30, according to the project page.

For more information and dates, check out the project website.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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