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City asks feds for funds to study second crossing

Posted: Tuesday, April 03, 2001

The Juneau Assembly on Monday recommended that Congress reallocate funding to look into a second crossing over Gastineau Channel.

Under a resolution unanimously approved by the Assembly, the city asks Congress to move a nearly $2.2 million federal appropriation from the stalled West Douglas Highway Project to study a second crossing.

Assembly member Ken Koelsch said the crossing might not be needed today, but will in the future.

"People in North Douglas need to know where it will be sited," he said. "So when it goes in, people will know and people with objections can make them now."

The Assembly added wording to the resolution to make any study of the crossing project part of the Juneau Area Wide Transportation Plan. The draft plan was released last week for public comment.

According to the plan, a second channel crossing from North Douglas would divert traffic from the Douglas Bridge but would not eliminate the need for improvements. The second crossing would include a highway and pedestrian crossing and provide secondary emergency access, according to the city.

Assembly member Dale Anderson said a second crossing was a priority when he was he was in high school.

Anderson is now past 50, he said. "It's high time we take the bull by the horns and do something we should have done when I was in high school," he said. "This is money we need to spend and we need to spend it now."

The resolution is a chance to get funding from Washington, D.C., Assembly member Jim Powell said. Alaska Rep. Don Young is the new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has asked for input from Alaska residents on transportation spending. According to the city, the money would come from federal highway funds.

During public comment, Bill Leighty said the second crossing should be examined more thoroughly than it would be in the areawide transportation plan.

"We need to have a community-wide discussion about the kind of community we want this to be," he said.

Assembly member Frankie Pillifant said the resolution would help prompt discussion about the project. And she said having a plan to back up the request would be helpful as the city asks for funding.

"Let's look at the demand that's in the community," she said.

Assembly member Marc Wheeler said a study would look into crossing alternatives and the project's impact on wetlands. He said he hoped planners would find an alternative that didn't include a wetlands fill.

City Engineering Director John Stone said a 1998 study on a second crossing gave a rough cost estimate of $46 million. That total includes a bridge structure, approach road, design, administration, inspections and environmental studies. The city has applied for a federal grant for additional studies on a second crossing. Stone said the research would look into traffic and possible locations identified in earlier studies, and would build on data collected about the 10th Street and Egan Drive intersection.

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



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