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Safe crossings

Posted: August 13, 2011 - 10:53pm

We all have goals and if we are lucky enough and diligent enough we make progress. One of the Assembly’s many goals is to: “Identify and take steps to address the top 5 pedestrian safety problems.” The crosswalk between Walmart and Switzer Village is one of those hotspots.

Most of us remember when there was a lighted intersection at the old primary entrance to Walmart, complete with crosswalks. That intersection was decommissioned shortly after the completion of the DOT Sunny Point overpass upgrade on Egan Drive. After hearing of many near misses from pedestrians and motorist around Juneau, I adopted this goal as a personal mission and for almost two years have been working relentlessly to have this particular crosswalk restored.

I am pleased to report that relentlessness sometime does pay off, especially when you find others who are equally committed to serving the public good. I was encouraged by a fire-fighter friend of mine, Brian Duncan, and guided by Police Chief Greg Browning; both of whom can be pretty relentless when it comes to public safety.

Friends at DOT tried to reassure me that there was a new plan in the works that would be better in the long run. They sent me copies of plans and patiently answered my questions, but somehow together we just didn’t have the power we needed to fix the problem sooner rather than later.

Next, I contacted our local legislative delegates: Senator Dennis Egan, and Representatives Beth Kertula and Cathy Munoz. They all acknowledged my concern and expressed their willingness to help. Cathy reached out to her contact at DOT and was assured that the new plan was going to fix us up real soon.

Then it happened. A pedestrian, Mr. Manual Antonio Mendoza, was struck by a hit-and-run driver. I was so angry ... so disgusted! But what could I do? Who could I reach out to that I hadn’t already pestered to death?

Finally, I thought of Governor Sean Parnell. I sent him an email reiterating my concerns and … what do you know … he got it done. I just received a letter from his office to say that, “On July 20, 2011 DOT&PF reinstated the crosswalk complete with warning signs and visibility flags for pedestrians to use while crossing.”

I am so thrilled at the end result; I had to share it with you and thank the many people along the way who encouraged, or suffered through, my efforts.

Now that the crosswalk is back I want to ask all pedestrians in the area – please, use it! Do not cross against the light or outside of the crosswalk. Use the flags and wave them proudly. You may be waving at me!

And drivers — please be aware and mindful of pedestrians; not only in this area but at all of our crossings.

With that mission accomplished, there’s no time to rest. Next stop; the intersection of Mendenhall Loop Road and Atlin Drive… Thanks to all in advance for the help I will be asking for very soon.

• Danner is a City and Borough of Juneau Assembly member

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