Right now, there’s only one way for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to cross from Juneau to Douglas Island. It’s the Douglas Bridge, off of 10th St. downtown.
But the city is moving ahead with an effort to change that.
Members of the public can soon weigh in on how to connect Juneau to the north end of Douglas Island. The state Department of Transportation is hosting the first of three open houses to get community feedback on the Juneau Douglas North Crossing project.
Juneau Senior Planner Irene Gallion said it’s an idea that’s been studied since the 1980s, but has never gotten very far.
“Some of the challenges with the past studies has been that they come in with a preconceived idea,” Gallion said. “So what we want to do first is figure out what the challenges are that we’re trying to address.”
Then they’ll consider which solution would best fit those needs. That could be a bridge, a ferry, a tunnel or something else.
Past studies have turned up several reasons for the need for a second crossing, like concerns about safety and emergency response if the current bridge is closed, as well as congestion during peak periods at the nearby intersection.
In 2010, voters shot down a ballot question to fund a crossing. In 2020, the city signed an agreement with the state to start studying a crossing in earnest.
Gallion said another crossing might allow for more development on the west side of Douglas Island.
“It feels like right now, with our housing shortages and some of the challenges that our businesses are having with finding good commercial land, that our lack of investment in infrastructure has come home to roost,” Gallion said.
The first open house is scheduled for May 11th at 4:30 p.m. on Zoom.