Douglas construction inconveniences some locals

Two-phase pipe-replacement project is slated to be completed by Aug. 29

Posted: Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Monica Witter, who lives near the intersection of Second and G streets in Douglas, doesn't let her yellow lab run free in the neighborhood lately. The road construction on Third Street has caused all the traffic to spill on to Second Street.

"I am worried about her safety," said Witter, 28. "The street is congested about 8 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon, the Juneau rush hours."

Her roommate, Chad Hood, has trouble backing up his 18-foot long boat because of the influx of cars on Second Street.

"It's tough not to get in everybody's way," said Hood, 28. "It is not a horrible thing but it is inconvenient."

The construction on Third Street, which started about six weeks ago, has not only caused traffic congestion on Second Street, but also affected businesses on Third Street. The number of Douglas Cafe customers during lunch hours has dropped from 60 to 40. Douglas Depot Gas Station has fewer walk-in customers.

Despite the inconvenience, residents and business owners have been very understanding as the city is replacing the water, storm and sewer pipes along Third Street.

"It's very muddy but it's necessary," said Pat Peterson, owner of Douglas Inn. "I saw some of the pipelines that were taken out. They were in bad, bad shape."

City engineer Rorie Watt said Douglas' water and sewer pipelines were installed at least 50 years ago, before the city of Juneau and the city of Douglas were unified into the City and Borough of Juneau in 1970.

"In the past few years, the water pipes broke several times and sewage backed up in people's homes," Watt said.

Many of Douglas' water pipes were made of iron and have become rusty. The city will replace them with ductile iron pipes.

The replacement of the pipelines is divided into two phases. Phase One is between Savikko to G streets and scheduled to be completed before July 4 for Douglas' famous Independence Day celebration. Phase II, from G to I streets, is scheduled to be finished before Aug. 29.

Since the project began in April, the city has received a few complaints. Watt said the inconvenience is unavoidable.

"It's like re-plumbing your bathroom while you are sill living in the house, but at a smaller scale," Watt said.

To minimize the impact, the city has put up signs to reroute traffic and temporary pipelines to keep users in service. Right now, Third Street between E and G streets is temporarily blocked.

"We are moving pretty fast. We are two weeks ahead of schedule," said Andrew Campbell of Arete Construction, who is overseeing the project. "Once we are done, people will have better pipes and better roads."

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