New trees for Centennial Hall, new lights for Egan Drive

Centennial Hall tree trimming

The old cottonwood trees in the Centennial Hall parking lot were starting to lean heavily and lose branches. Rather than let them become even more of a hazard, the city decided recently to remove them. Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO.

If you’ve walked through the Centennial Hall parking lot lately, you may have noticed that landscape crews cut down some trees last week.

The convention center’s manager, Steven Pfister, says the old cottonwoods were starting to lean heavily and lose branches. Rather than allow them to become a hazard, Pfister says the city decided to remove them.

He says new trees will be planted, but probably not until next year.

“So we just thought, do we wait for a tree to fall over and hurt somebody? Or damage property? Or do we go ahead and just take care of it now?” Pfister says. “And then we also looked at it as a unique opportunity to beautify it.”

Pfister says he’s not sure what kind of trees will replace the old ones. But he hopes they’ll be more colorful, like the maples planted around the building.

The city’s Willoughby District plan calls for a portion of the Centennial Hall parking lot to eventually be turned into a mall-style street, with green spaces and landscaped sidewalks.

 

Crews from Ever Electric and North Pacific Erectors are constructing as many as 148 light poles along Egan Drive. Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

Meanwhile, work is already underway to make Egan Drive safer with better roadway illumination. Crews are now in the first phase of the project to erect 148 light poles along darkened areas on Egan Drive from Norway Point to Yandukin Drive. Each pole will be 35 feet tall with 250-watt high pressure sodium lights.

Everyone is slowing down to view the crane (operator) who’s driving the support members for the poles.”

John Garvey of Ever Electric said North Pacific Erectors is helping with the job to drive pilings, weld on caps, and bore underground.

Garvey said work on outbound lanes will occur only before 4 pm, and then inbound lanes will only occur between 9 am and 4 pm. Crews will work for the next few weeks until the weather gets sloppy, and then they’ll take a break until March. Garvey hopes to complete the project in June.

He said on KTOO’s A Juneau Afternoon program on Wednesday that drivers should be careful and watch for crews, equipment, and traffic control measures.

“We just ask that (drivers) merge quickly,” said Garvey. He suggests that drivers start merging when they first see the right lane closure and merge signs.

So when you get to the light, you’re not trying to cut in. That’s where accidents happen. That and people viewing what’s going on and then the people behind it not slowing down. We’ve had a couple close calls. No accidents yet, thank goodness.”

The latest state capital projects budget included $4.2 million in federal funds for the Egan Drive Illumination Project. Ever Electric won the contract with a $3.7 million dollar bid in July. Total cost for the project is currently expected to be just over $3.8 million.

 

Casey Kelly and Matt Miller contributed to this report.