Juneau eyes improvements to Seward St.

Engineer says bare-bones reconstruction could cost about $1.6 million

Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2004

Some people look at Seward Street and see an opportunity.

Aging underground water and sewer systems have to be replaced soon, said Karen Blue, a project engineer with the Juneau Community Development Department.

On Tuesday night, she showed the Juneau Planning Commission options to improve Seward Street above ground between Front and Fifth streets, as well.

"This is still very preliminary," she told commissioners. But she said some work could be done to improve the appearance of the corridor.

Planning Commissioner PeggyAnn McConnochie asked Tuesday about businesses losing foot traffic while the work is being done. Blue said temporary sidewalks can be constructed for pedestrian access.

While working on the underground utilities, the "not very pretty" overhead utilities that clutter the view of the mountains and sky can be buried, she said.

The street may look nicer, Blue said Wednesday, with canopy-covered sidewalks that are 112 feet wider and with brick paving similar to Marine Park Plaza downtown.

A small park occupying the open area at Third and Seward streets could improve the area further.

"We have an opportunity to make something nice on Fourth Street" in front of the state Capitol, she added.

The Juneau Assembly will decide the scope of the reconstruction project, Blue said. Possibilities were presented to the Assembly's Public Works and Facilities Committee in November. Another presentation to the committee is scheduled for Jan. 26.

"We've been developing costs," she said.

Blue said the bare-bones reconstruction could cost about $1.6 million. Adding above-ground aesthetic improvements might raise the cost to $3.45 million, she said.

The project would be paid for from money set aside for such improvements from the existing city sales tax. If approved, work could begin in the spring of 2005 and end in September.

"Our goal would be to be above Third Street before the tourist season in May," Blue said. The schedule also would have to be worked out to avoid Fourth Street while the Legislature is in session, she added.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.

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