DOT seeks study for second Gastineau Channel crossing, publishes draft on Fred Meyer intersection

Egan-Yandukin intersection recommended alternative
This figure from a draft study of improvement options at the intersection of Egan and Yandukin drives in Juneau illustrates three changes consultants recommend to improve safety for motorists and pedestrians and to provide a backup route if Egan Drive is closed.

State transportation officials are beginning a new study and winding down another one for two prominent road projects in Juneau: a second crossing between Douglas Island and the mainland, and improvements to a chokepoint highway intersection near the Fred Meyer.

At the end of May, the Alaska Department of Transportation started formally looking for someone to study a second crossing. The two-lane Douglas Bridge is the only road across Gastineau Channel.

That consultant is expected to produce a report by the end of 2022 that recommends options, weighed with environmental, community and economic goals in mind.

Contract proposals are due June 15. The department expects to pay up to $1 million for the study with mostly federal money, plus some from the City and Borough of Juneau.

The city’s long-term plans say the future development of the backside of Douglas Island — particularly of new, deep-water port facilities — hinges on a second crossing to accommodate more traffic, including heavy industrial trucks. The lack of secondary emergency access to Douglas Island is also a concern.

City engineers have ballparked the cost of a second crossing of Gastineau Channel at $90 million. The study is an early step on a long path to secure federal funding for the project.

DOT recently released a draft of a similar study that evaluates options for improving the intersection of Egan and Yandukin drives near Juneau’s Fred Meyer.

By the numbers, this intersection isn’t exceptionally dangerous or congested. But the crashes that do occur there tend to be more severe. Crashes there can also completely shut down crosstown traffic, with no alternate routes.

The consultants recommend making three changes that would improve safety for motorists and pedestrians, and provide a backup route.

First, build a traffic light in the intersection that signalizes existing traffic flows. That is, the light would allow left turns off of Egan Drive, but not left turns on to Egan Drive. Traffic crossing all four lanes of Egan Drive would still not be allowed.

Second, extend the road behind Fred Meyer to the McDonald’s-Nugget Mall traffic light.

And finally, build a pedestrian bridge over Egan Drive.

The consultants’ report includes rough cost estimates for each component. The road extension is far and away the most expensive element, making up two-thirds of the overall project cost. The consultants estimate building all three components would cost between $23 million and $47 million.

The draft study is open for public comment until June 16. You can read it at the Alaska Department of Transportation’s project website and comment by emailing eganyandukin@alaska.gov, or by calling the project team at 907-465-1796. 

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