Juneau moves forward with plan for new Valley Transit Center

Juneau Public Works officials are on track with preliminary work to build a new transit center in the Mendenhall Valley to boost ridership and reduce downtown congestion.

An engineer’s drawing shows a proposed Valley Transit Center with

  • a bus loop that could stage seven buses,
  • a park-and-ride lot with 95 standard parking spaces and four accessible spaces,
  • bike path and sidewalk access from Riverside Drive,
  • four 50-square-foot bus shelters, and
  • a 300-square-foot break room.

Several location options that have been studied. In a memo, the city’s project manager Lori Sowa writes her preference is for a vacant area on Mall Road between Asiana Garden and Heritage Coffee.

Michelle Bonnet Hale chairs the Juneau Assembly’s Public Works and Facilities Committee, which discussed the proposed transit center Monday. She also recently became a regular bus rider.

“My husband and I, we had a car and the car died,” she said. “We said, ‘Maybe we just try taking the bus.’ So it’s a 10-minute walk to the bus station, and we’ve been taking the bus for several months, and — it works. And I’m really interested in it, and I’m really interested in finding ways of encouraging more ridership.”

There are a lot of steps before construction can happen. There’s a private land sale to be finalized, the new owner will need to subdivide the property and a federal transportation grant application is also pending.

“All of that is going to take time. So this is just a matter of lining up the pieces, and then those pieces should fall into place, you know, sort of one after the other,” Hale said.

Hale’s committee on Monday recommended setting aside about $2 million in sales tax money for the eventual land purchase. She said that will help line up more federal transportation grants for construction, in addition to one for $800,000 the city has already secured.