As a former member of the Juneau Planning Commission I was privileged to see the initial efforts of the combined planning for the Juneau waterfront between Gold Creek and Merchants Wharf. The idea is great and the program involving citizen participation is well planned. However, in all of the presentation to date I have not been aware of any planning with respect to the need for transportation improvements on Egan Drive to accommodate the increased vehicular and non-motorized transportation that such a development will require in order to be successful. Specifically, the intersection of Egan and 10th.
DOT&PF engaged a consultant to develop possible scenarios to improve this intersection. The preferred alternative by DOT&PF was shot down and rightfully so as it would have diverted outbound Egan traffic onto Glacier Avenue. However, one alternative proposed by the consultant would have improved the intersection significantly, that alternative was a modified grade-separated interchange. The consultant proposal had some drawbacks in that by using a roundabout the design had a relatively large footprint, negatively impacting many waterfront businesses. DOT&PF did not like the interchange alternative as it indicated a need to place the through roadway 20 feet below existing grade which would require massive waterproof retaining walls in the underpass.
By modifying the consultant's design somewhat, an acceptable grade-separated interchange can be the solution to the 10th-Egan traffic problem. If 10th Street starts to climb over Egan beginning at F Street, it would be 10 feet above Egan at the intersection. This would only require depressing Egan 10 feet at the intersection in order to gain adequate clearance for an underpass and would minimize the need for waterproof retaining walls in the underpass.
Use of a "single point" interchange with a traffic signal would significantly reduce the footprint and minimize damage to the waterfront properties.
The increased traffic generated by the proposed waterfront development requires that something major be done to alleviate the traffic congestion at 10th and Egan. Forcing alternative transportation on the public will doom the proposed waterfront development as an economic engine for Juneau. The Area Wide Transportation Plan for Juneau is due for an update in 2005 looking at 2025 as the horizon year. That update should be underway at present. Included in that update should be the full development of the proposed waterfront development plan and accommodation of the traffic impacts of that plan.
Roger W. Allington, PE, PTOE