CBJ considers pioneer road from end of North Douglas Highway

It would likely not be built until 2015, but a pioneer road would be the first extension of the North Douglas Highway.

A proposed two and a quarter-mile section would allow both the City and Borough of Juneau and Goldbelt Inc. to access their land on West Douglas Island.

The two have been working together for about 17 years to plan for development. Between Outer Point and Point Hilda, CBJ owns more than 3,434 acres and Goldbelt has 1,740 acres.

The area has long been considered the most accessible property for development on the road system.

The topic has been the subject of two Assembly Committee of the Whole meetings in as many weeks.

CBJ Lands and Resources Manager Heather Marlow said the city has no development plans yet, so “what does the road corridor do for us now?”

She told the Assembly Monday night that the road would begin about three-tenths of a mile from the current end of North Douglas Highway and would go out to Middle Creek.

West Douglas Island detail plain for the roadway and areas 1-A and 1-B.

West Douglas Island detail plan for the roadway and areas 1-A and 1-B.

In the short term, she said, it would provide better access to recreation such as hunting, camping, fishing, and cross-country skiing.

“So what it does is essentially is set us up for future development opportunities and future planning opportunities,” she said.

It also would allow Goldbelt to access its land.

Vice President of Operations Derek Duncan recently told the Assembly that Goldbelt’ s goals for West Douglas include a cultural center, residential and commercial development, and a deep-water industrial port.

The 1997 West Douglas Island Conceptual Plan – an agreement between Goldbelt and the city – would develop land in nodes.

“In this concept of nodal development, you’d have a concentrated cluster of development separated by open space, which would basically protect the habitat for cultural subsistence and recreational uses,” Duncan explained.

Since the 1997 conceptual plan, Alaska Electric Light and Power has extended power to the end of North Douglas Highway. The city has acquired more than 20 acres in the Hilda Creek area for open space and recreation. CBJ also incorporated the conceptual plan into the borough-wide Master Plan.

Marlow said a proposed private golf course developer’s lease option on city land has expired. She said Totem Creek never presented its development plans to the city.

Later this month, the Assembly is expected to approve an ordinance to appropriate $600,000 in state grant funds for project design. After more field studies, Marlow said the city would seek permits for the pioneer road. She said it’s possible the city could go out for bid by this time next year.

She described the pioneer road as a 20-foot gravel cross section with periodic pullouts.

About $2.9 million in state Department of Transportation funds would be available for the road.