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Road construction gets underway on Egan Drive

Posted: June 26, 2012 - 12:01am  |  Updated: June 26, 2012 - 7:17am

Orange traffic cones were up and left-turn lanes were closed Monday at the intersection of Egan Drive, Yandukin Drive and a Glacier Highway access road. Outbound motorists on Egan Drive were prevented from turning left toward Juneau International Airport, and inbound drivers from turning right toward Glacier Highway.

The project, which is scheduled to keep the left-turn lanes closed from Monday until July 15, is intended to improve visibility for cars turning left and reduce collisions at the intersection, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities officials said.

“This project was developed to address angle crashes at the intersection,” said David Epstein, Traffic and Safety engineer for the Southeast region. “If you’re in the turn lane there and you want to turn left, sometimes when traffic is stacked up in the other turn lane, it affects your ability to see oncoming traffic, and that’s the cause of a lot of these angle crashes.”

Epstein said the left turn lanes will be offset further from the other lanes by about four feet each.

“(Drivers’) view of oncoming traffic will be, essentially, unimpeded,” said Al Clough, DOTPF’s Southeast director. “And that’s what we want.”

During the three-week lane closures, vehicles on Egan Drive heading in the direction of Auke Bay and the Mendenhall Valley will be unable to turn left onto Yandukin Drive toward the airport, while cars on Egan Drive heading in the direction of downtown Juneau will not be able to turn left onto the Glacier Highway access road, where the Fred Meyer parking lot driveway and a Capital Transit bus stop are located.

Travelers to the airport who would normally turn left off Egan Drive onto Yandukin Drive will have to drive further west on the thoroughfare and turn left onto Glacier Highway, near the Nugget Mall shopping center. From the other direction, drivers wishing to turn left will have to drive further as well.

“If you’re coming inbound on Egan and you want to go to Fred Meyer, you will have to go past Fred Meyer, exit at the overpass, and (backtrack on) the old Glacier Highway,” Clough said.

Even though the detour for Fred Meyer customers coming from the north takes them directly past Walmart, one of Fred Meyer’s competitors, Fred Meyer store director Kenneth Antcliff said he is not worried about losing sales to the other store. He said Fred Meyer has “loyal customers” who will put up with the detour.

“I’m concerned that it’s inconvenient for our city and our store and our customers,” said Antcliff, who acknowledged that the construction could affect business and complicate his employees’ commutes. But he added, “We support having that road be safe, and if this is going to do that, well, it’s needed.”

The construction will also affect Capital Transit, Juneau’s public bus system. Only outbound Capital Transit buses will service stops along Glacier Highway at the Alaska Department of Transportation offices, the Gastineau Humane Society and Fred Meyer while construction is ongoing, according to a public notice by the construction company Secon, the main contractor.

Project manager Bryce Iverson said that at times, Egan Drive may be restricted to one lane of traffic in either direction, though between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., both lanes will open for inbound traffic, and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., both lanes will be open for outbound traffic.

“It’s to accommodate the public, to get home and get to work,” explained Iverson, who works for Secon.

Although the left-turn lanes are expected to open up again in mid-July, Iverson said crews have until July 31 to completely finish the project.

“After we pave it, we have to wait 14 days until we can apply our paint,” said Iverson. “(Then) we’ll shut it down one more day for paint application.”

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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