City should close hill during storms

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, February 07, 2005

I have lived on the Ninth Street hill that goes up to the Governor's Mansion for nearly 20 years and have repeatedly witnessed the vehicle mayhem that occurs following heavy snow or ice rain. Tuesday, Feb. 1, was the worst example I have witnessed. Starting with the after-work rush, I saw more than a dozen vehicles slide down the hill doing as many as three circles or "360s." Some of the vehicles had actually been going up the hill but lost momentum on the turn. The scariest vehicle to slide down was a big, heavy city sand and plow truck. It was not using chains. A similar city truck, without chains, went out of control during one of our earlier snowfalls and slammed into one of my neighbor's vehicles.

Last night I saw the sole parked car on the hill get hit three times and the third hit sent it up over the curb, almost striking the owner, who was trying to clean the snow off the windows so he could move it. At one point there was a pileup of four vehicles at the bottom of the hill.

When the incidents began, I called police dispatch to advise them what was happening and to request that barricades be put up to stop people from using the hill until it was plowed and sanded. I was told rather brusquely that they would get to it when they could. It took almost an hour for a police car to show up and begin assessing damage, and the officer parked in the very spot where the previous parked car had been hit. He wasn't there long before another out-of-control pickup slammed into him.

In the midst of all this a teenage boy was trying to use the hill for sledding. Fortunately, he gave up before he was hit.

I am hoping that persons who need to drive in downtown Juneau during heavy snow or icy conditions will avoid the Ninth Street hill. For those who don't read this letter or heed this warning, I am hoping that the city will, from this point forward, assume responsibility for accident prevention on the hill by barricading it until the appropriate maintenance can take place. This hill has heavy pedestrian traffic as well, and we don't want to have anyone run down by an out-of-control vehicle.

Brenda Knapp


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