Local Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Transportation list OK'd by commission

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JUNEAU The Juneau Planning Commission forwarded a city transportation plan draft to the Juneau Assembly at a meeting on Tuesday, adding recommendations about Egan Drive interchanges and mass transit.

Work on the draft Area Wide Transportation Plan started in 1998 as a way to provide a transportation vision for the community and address deficiencies, according to city Community Development Department Director Cheryl Easterwood.

Since releasing the draft, the city's transportation steering committee has received 55 letters, 110 responses to a city questionnaire and 130 comment sheets. Committee members also received a petition with 112 signatures calling for a study of a fixed-guideway mass transit system such as light rail.

Easterwood said the committee moved a goal of reducing demand for single-person car trips higher on the priority list in response to public testimony. The committee also changed a recommendation about the need to design and construct Egan Drive interchanges, deleting the word "construct" as officials worked on ways to reduce transportation demand, she said.

But Juneau Chamber of Commerce President Jamie Parsons told commissioners the city needs to give clear direction to the state Department of Transportation about the need for the interchanges.

Commissioners agreed to forward the plan to the Assembly, recommending it add back the word "construct" in reference to the interchanges. They also suggested the city study alternative mass transit systems and include public comment in an appendix to the plan.

Milfoil in Twin Lakes may move on

JUNEAU City officials hope a lowering of the water level and other efforts killed off milfoil in Twin Lakes. The pesky weed that wraps itself around legs and fishing poles clogged waters of the lakes between Egan Drive and Glacier Highway last summer.

Partially draining the lakes last winter as part of a repair project helped freeze the plants, and a base of salt water was added to North Lake to help kill what was left, said Kim Kiefer, city Parks and Recreation director. But because milfoil only grows in shallow water, it will be hard to tell how plentiful it is until later in the summer.

"It's still to early to tell," she said.

One of the problems with milfoil is how easily the weed can be spread from lake to lake. "It can be transferred between lakes by people who have some stuck on the bottoms of their boats," Kiefer said.

Still, Kiefer remains hopeful. "We hope that as the summer progresses there will be less and less," she said. "But it's an obnoxious weed, so you never know."

Two tourists die in river accidents

ANCHORAGE Two tourists died in Alaska rivers during the past week

The body of a tourist from France was pulled from the Talachulitna River on Tuesday. Michelle Saint Andre, 55, fell overboard while on a float trip down the river. Saint Andre was with two other men when a tree dumped all three from their inflatable raft. The men were wearing life jackets, Alaska State Troopers said.

Saint Andre had to remove his life jacket to free an oar that was stuck under it. When he did that, the other men, who survived, said he lost his grip on the life jacket and floated downstream without it.

An Ohio man drowned Friday on the Charley River. Alaska State Troopers said George M. Zeiter, 41, of Sylvania, and five companions were paddling canoes and inflatable kayaks when they flipped in high water and lost most of their gear.

The Fairbanks Flight Service on Monday notified troopers that someone had spelled out the word "HELP" on a blue tarp on the river about 60 miles south and east of Circle. Troopers sent out a helicopter and located four of the six men. A fifth man was found on an island, where he had been stranded since the accident.

Zeiter's body was recovered a short distance from the accident site. Troopers said the men worked together at an automobile plant in Ohio. They were all wearing personal flotation devices.

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