Planners OK Thane Road, Verizon cell tower

69-foot cellphone communications tower to rise on hill near Auke Bay

Juneau’s Planning Commission approved Verizon’s request for a permit to build a new cell tower in the Auke Bay area, Tuesday. If approved by the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Verizon can begin building a new 69-foot wireless communications tower in the Auke Bay area.

The tower would occupy a site on the uphill side of Glacier Highway near the Auke Recreation Area turn-off. The 27,000-square-foot lot is owned by Adam Zenger and Michelle Zenger. It is located uphill of a subdivision in an area zoned D3 residential, single-family or duplex homes.

Verizon contracted with Westower Communications to build a 66-foot communications tower on a steel platform within a fence 27-foot square. With its crown of antenna, the tower would reach 69 feet. The site will also house a generator.

The site currently has a 100-foot wooden monopole owned by GCI and Alaska Communications. Verizon said in its permit request that the current tower does not have the room for a third customer.

Verizon has given hints about its future in Juneau (goo.gl/y7GLc) with other tower permits (goo.gl/SvD0k).

Creating a safer Thane Road for vehicles and pedestrians was also on the agenda.

Thane Road could soon receive upgrades to its blacktop with extra shoulder room for pedestrians. A straighter, better-paved Thane Road with wider shoulders would be safer than the current accident-prone stretch of road, but he new, smooth course would require mitigations to avoid speeding.

A smooth paved surface could encourage faster vehicular speeds, so “pedestrian safety features were needed,” CBJ planner Eric Feldt said in his report.

Construction has begun on the road improvement project from the Rock Dump to the end of Thane Road.

The Planning Commission approved CBJ’s request for upgrades to a 0.33-mile section of Thane from Thane Ore House to the Sheep Creek Bridge for pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The plan originally approved for this section did not consider pedestrian traffic. Upgrades could include realignment of a number of curves, widened shoulders and replacement culverts and utility lines.

Where the road can not be widened to accommodate pedestrians, CBJ staff recommend signage to warn drivers.

Construction is expected to cost $1.2 million.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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