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Brotherhood Bridge construction to go out to bid next month

Work on $25 million construction project to begin next spring

Posted: October 14, 2013 - 12:02am
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A design for a new Brotherhood Bridge spanning the Mendenhall River is currently being finalized.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
A design for a new Brotherhood Bridge spanning the Mendenhall River is currently being finalized.

The design for the Brotherhood Bridge construction project, which will replace the bridge over the Mendenhall River and reconfigure the parking lot at the Brotherhood Bridge trailhead, is in its final stages, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities.

The project will go out to bid next month, DOT Southeast Regional Director Al Clough said. With an anticipated price tag “north of $25 million,” the transportation project will be the city’s most expensive for the next few years, he said. Construction will begin in spring of 2014 and wrap up in fall of 2015.

The biggest chunk of the project is the replacement and expansion of the Brotherhood Bridge, which will double from two lanes to four, Clough said. The bridge must be replaced for safety reasons, he said. The DOT started planning for the replacement in 2009.

“It’s structurally deficient and undersized for the amount of traffic going across it, and it also doesn’t meet modern seismic standards,” Clough said.

The current bridge will stay open throughout construction.

“There are some rumors going around that we were going to divert traffic to Back Loop, and that’s not correct,” he said. “There might be short periods during construction that traffic might be delayed, but as a rule traffic will be able to transit the area.”

The first half of the new bridge will be built alongside the existing one, Clough said. That way drivers can continue using the old bridge while the new one is under construction. Once it is completed, traffic will shift to the first half of the new bridge. The old bridge will then be torn down and the other half of the new one built in its place, Clough said.

The parking lot at the Brotherhood Bridge trailhead is being reconfigured to improve traffic flow, city Parks and Landscape Superintendent George Schaaf said. The DOT asked the city for permission to build a driveway from the lot to nearby Wildmeadow Lane through Brotherhood Park land, he said. Once construction is complete, cars and tour buses will enter and exit the site via Wildmeadow Lane, Clough said. The current access from the lot to Glacier Highway will be closed. This will improve safety at the often-congested site, he said.

“Right now the access is directly off Glacier Highway and it’s a mess,” Clough said.

Schaaf said the city worked with DOT to maintain the size of the parking lot, a popular site for visitors and residents because of its view of the glacier and wildflowers in the summer.

“Because they’re widening the bridge and adding a bike path, the parking lot was going to be reduced in size,” Schaaf said. “They’ve worked with us to maintain the parking for the trailhead.”

The layout of the lot will be changed, providing more parking for cars and buses and making it easier to navigate. New interpretive signs will be installed. Also, a new multiuse path from Safeway to the University of Alaska-Southeast — another part of the construction project — will feature wayfinding signs brand new to Juneau.

“They’re pedestrian- and bike-scale versions of highway signs,” Schaaf said. “They’ll look very familiar to anyone who drives on the highway.”

Schaaf said he’s “pretty excited about the new signs,” which were inspired by those in other bike-friendly cities. If these mini-highway signs work on the new path, they might be integrated elsewhere in Juneau.

“There’s kind of a mishmash of different signage around Juneau,” Schaaf said. “We’re going to see how they work out there.”

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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