Traffic engineers back $34M highway interchange at accident-prone Juneau intersection

In a 210-page report about the accident-prone intersection of Egan and Yandukin drives in Juneau, Kinney Engineering illustrated how it could be rebuilt as a highway interchange.

In a 210-page report about the accident-prone intersection of Egan and Yandukin drives in Juneau, Kinney Engineering illustrated how it could be rebuilt as a highway interchange. (Courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities)

Traffic engineers are recommending rebuilding an accident-prone intersection in Juneau as a highway interchange. Meaning a pair of new on-ramps and off-ramps, and an overpass.

At $34 million, it’s the most expensive of the options the consultants analyzed. But it was also the only option that improved both overall safety and traffic flow around the intersection near Fred Meyer.

The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities published Kinney Engineering’s report on the intersection Monday on its website. The recommendation is just one early step in the department’s process to prioritize and select projects.

Juneau resident Erik Stimpfle said he was nearly rear-ended there on Monday evening. He said he was getting onto Egan Drive with his family. His wife noticed the driver behind him wasn’t slowing down.

“We were just right at the end of the merge lane, and they were not letting us in,” he said. “I was already going 50 (mph), but I stayed in the emergency lane until they went by.”

As the driver passed, he said he honked on the horn really hard.

However, it’s failed left turns across oncoming traffic that tend to result in the most severe crashes.

The 210-page report gets into some pretty cold statistical analysis. For example, it applies state and federal transportation methodologies to assign dollar values to drivers’ time lost to traffic delays, as well as property damage, injuries — even fatalities.

Other options they considered created traffic delays and made accidents more likely elsewhere, though at lower speeds.

The other options were:

  • no change;
  • installing a traffic light; and
  • blocking left turns in the intersection, but creating similar access by extending the Glacier Highway dead end behind Fred Meyer into the traffic light at the “McNugget” intersection of Egan Drive and Glacier Highway.

That last option was popular at an open house the Department of Transportation held in December 2017.

The report’s crash analysis also undercuts some assertions that this is Juneau’s — or even Alaska’s — most dangerous intersection. The consultants found the crash rate is comparable to other intersections of this type around Alaska. They did find the severity of the crashes was above average, but not exceptional.

The Department of Transportation has scheduled an open house about the intersection from 4-7 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the community room at the Nugget Mall.

Collision near Juneau’s Fred Meyer causes multiple injuries

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