State transportation officials have secured $300,000 to design small-scale safety improvements to the highway intersection near Juneau’s Fred Meyer.
David Epstein is the Department of Transportation’s regional traffic and safety engineer. He says the money comes through the federal government’s Highway Safety Improvement Program. It’s purpose is “to build highway improvements that maximizes lives saved and serious injuries eliminated per the dollar spent.”
From 2013 to 2016, he said there were two crashes in the intersection of Egan Drive and Yandukin Drive that led to hospitalizations.
There are three changes to come.
First, the speed limit on that stretch of Egan Drive from Sunny Point to Mendenhall Loop Road will be reduced seasonally. From November through January, the speed limit will be 45 miles per hour, instead of 55.
Second, the markings of the left turn lanes off of Egan Drive will be changed to shorten the distance across oncoming traffic and improve sight lines.
And third, the outbound, right turn lane of Egan Drive in the intersection will also be better marked. Epstein says that’s expected to help drivers on the other side of the highway waiting to turn left.
“That has been a problem for some of our drivers. Like, ‘Is that person turning straight, or is he pulling through?’” Epstein said.
These improvements complement a longer-term effort to redesign and rebuild the entire intersection.
Epstein expects the design work on the shorter term improvements to be done next year. He says it’ll cost another estimated $1.2 million to make the improvements and won’t happen until 2022 at the earliest.
Jim Brown is managing the department’s longer-term plan for the intersection, which is going through a process that relies heavily on public comment to land federal funding.
“We’re looking at 2023 and beyond for the long-range piece of these improvements,” Brown said.
He says about 190 people participated in a public meeting on Wednesday where transportation officials presented several redesign concepts. The concepts address safety first, but also try to improve alternate routes in case of a crash, access for pedestrians and cyclists, and traffic flow.
The latest public comment period opened Wednesday and runs through Nov. 12. Brown says a report should be published in the spring that narrows down the list of redesign options to the department’s and community’s top picks.
More information about the department’s process and plans, plus a form to comment, are available at the department’s Egan-Yandukin online open house website.