Steamship Wharf and park project under review

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Plans to redesign the Steamship Wharf-Marine Park area downtown won't be in place this summer, although some changes could be finished by 2003, city staff members said.

Juneau Assembly members received an update about the project at a committee meeting Monday. Plans may include improved bus staging, a removable bus shelter, an expanded pavilion at Marine Park, rest rooms, public open space and a new vendor sales area.

A city planning team began dusting off 1999 drawings for the area at the request of Assembly members last month.

Once the Assembly and users review the project, it could go out to bid this fall, City Engineering Director John Stone said. A partial deck-over could be finished by summer 2003, as the open water between the shore and Steamship Wharf is covered. A compete deck and other improvements could be in place by summer 2004, he said.

Assembly member Jim Powell said he was looking forward to a project that balances the needs of residents and visitors.

"I'm looking for nine solid votes on what we come up with," he said.

Assembly member Dale Anderson said the project is a piece of overall waterfront planning in downtown Juneau.

"This is a waterfront that belongs to Juneau. To make use of the waterfront in the best fashion is what we're after," he said.

The city estimates the project could cost up to $7.5 million, based on 1999 research. Staff members will provide more information about cost of construction, maintenance and funding options as plans develop, Stone said.

One key piece of the project is bus staging. One option would reconfigure the wharf to allow angle parking, while another would set up two parallel lanes. Both choices would provide room for 11 to 15 buses, according to Rorie Watt of the city's engineering department. The current parking area holds seven buses.

"It seems that all of the concepts are an improvement over existing conditions," Watt said.

The deck near the current bus-parking area at Steamship Wharf is not strong enough to support vehicle traffic without changes, Watt said.

In the interim, the city plans to implement new waterfront-loading procedures. Only buses and vans serving presold tours would be allowed in the waterfront loading zones during the first hour of passenger debarking, based on a proposal now under review. Port Director Joe Graham said the change is designed to limit congestion.

"There's no guarantee these (changes) will solve any problems, but it's a worthwhile effort and we plan on going through with it this summer," he said.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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