Work on about a mile of Glacier Highway near the Nugget Mall is expected to improve access for pedestrians and improve a nearby creek.
The Department of Transportation project begins at the McNugget Intersection and continues to Shell Simmons Drive, said DOT construction manager Chuck Correa.
The $4.65 million project will build sidewalks on both sides of Glacier Highway. It also will add new signal lights at Shell Simmons, the road to the Juneau Airport, and at Jordan Avenue, where Lyle's Home Furnishings is located.
"There will be pedestrian buttons for crossing, but it's not limited to pedestrian improvements. It will improve access points and all sorts of things, such as the overhead electrical utility lines will go underground," Correa said.
Bob Doll, Southeast regional director for the Department of Transportation, said the changes should make it easier for drivers to get in and out of McDonald's and Breeze Inn.
"I think people will really like the final product because we are putting in handicapped accessible sidewalks, curbs and lights," said Doll.
The project, which began May 14, should be completed by Oct. 30, said on-site project engineer Thad Hopper.
Part of the project is rehabilitation of a section of Duck Creek, which was a major salmon-spawning stream before the area was built up, Hopper said.
Rehabilitating the stream will include installing larger culverts at the entrance to Berners Avenue Professional Plaza, and realigning the stream bed where it comes under Egan Drive at Mendenhall Loop, moving it away from Glacier Highway.
"We want to get the salmon back," Hopper said.
The complex project has "gone pretty smoothly," said Nugget Mall Manager Bud Jaeger. "They have been allowing traffic through, and it has gone well. We have a long summer ahead of us, but so far, so good."
Jaeger sees the construction as a positive change: "I think it should ease pedestrian traffic some and, with the traffic signals, it will allow a better and safer way on and off Glacier Highway," he said.
Many Department of Transportation upgrades are driven by safety issues - such as a high rate of traffic accidents. But this upgrade is not, said DOT traffic and safety engineer Rick Purves.
"What we are really trying to do is tie this important valley commercial area into the community, making it pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly. The two new signals will make access and egress for vehicles better, but they will also provide protected pedestrian access. We are also putting in bicycle lanes in both directions," Purves said.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at email@example.com.
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