Experts help city shape future of neighborhoods

Planners are looking at traffic levels, safety and travel efficiency

Posted: Sunday, April 30, 2000

The Juneau of 2020 may be unveiled Monday night in Centennial Hall.

Dan Burden doesn't have a crystal ball, but he does have the insights of scores of Juneau residents and a dozen planning professionals. They've been working to develop a vision of what Juneau will look like. They'll offer that trip into the future at 6 p.m. Monday in Centennial Hall.

``It will be the finale. A visual, power-point presentation of land use and transportation for the next 20 years,'' he said.

Burden, a nationally known expert on transportation and traffic, has been working in Juneau since Thursday with a team of experts from the nonprofit group, Walkable Communities. They're here to help the city and borough, the state of Alaska and local citizens develop a plan for the future of Juneau.

Burden visits hundreds of cities each year studying traffic, community development and the psychology of driving and walking. He works with communities to create and shape better neighborhoods, healthier downtowns and safer streets for drivers and pedestrians.

``He's probably the number one expert in the country at developing consensus for community visions that relate to transportation issues,'' said Heather Marlow, a planner with the city of Juneau. Marlow worked with assembly member Frankie Pillifant and others to bring Burden to Juneau and organize the weekend planning sessions.

Six focus groups met Thursday and Friday to discuss issues such as emergency services, schools and transportation services. About 60 people attended an introductory session Friday night and an all-day brainstorming and planning session Saturday at Centennial Hall.

Friday, Burden offered examples showing how trees, medians, roundabouts, pathways and street designs profoundly affect traffic flow and community well-being.

Subtle and not-so subtle factors influence property values, safety and travel efficiency. Children and senior citizens are particularly affected.

Children and adults offered their input Saturday, drawing maps and plans for the kind of Juneau they'd like to see.

Thomas Sorensen, 10, had some ideas for improvements in the Sunny Drive and Lemon Creek area.

``I don't like that you can't get across Egan Drive except at the intersection. It's dangerous. So I made an overpass at Sunny Drive -- or an underpass,'' he said.

Other ideas included light rail, a more pedestrian-friendly downtown area, ways to mix commercial and residential areas, developments at Eaglecrest Ski Area and in West Douglas, a float-home subdivision in Gastineau Channel and ways to address Juneau's problem intersections. Burden will consolidate and articulate the ideas Monday.

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