The security screening area at the Juneau Airport, covered sidewalks downtown and improvements to Columbia Boulevard and lower Evergreen Avenue were among the city's top priorities in allocating public works funds this year.
Juneau Assembly members approved a slate of capital improvement projects earlier this month. More than $6 million was earmarked for street repairs, maintenance and other projects. Much of the funding comes from the city's 1 percent areawide street sales tax.
A good portion of the fiscal year 2003 funding will go to street reconstruction projects on lower Evergreen Avenue-Angus Way downtown and Columbia Boulevard in the Mendenhall Valley. More than $1.6 million is slated for each project and construction should start next year, according to Public Works Director Joe Buck.
A need for water and sewer utility upgrades is helping to drive the lower Evergreen-Angus Way project, while the Columbia Boulevard improvements are tied to pedestrian safety, Buck said.
"Mendenhall River School is near there," he said. "We have rebuilt a number of roads in that area - we just did Taku Boulevard, which runs perpendicular (to Columbia). ... It's sidewalks for kids to get to school."
The capital budget also includes $100,000 in "seed money" to study Capitol Avenue and West 7th Street reconstruction and $925,000 for drainage and road improvements in the Riverwood Subdivision. A public meeting and information session on the Riverwood-Green Acres project is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. July 11 in the Riverbend Elementary School commons area.
Meanwhile, the city is continuing road work on Gastineau Avenue and Mendenhall Boulevard this summer. Hospital Drive will be paved in August, Buck said.
The capital budget also includes $154,000 for security-related improvements at the Juneau Airport, including rest rooms and passenger screening. Airport officials plan to move the security screening equipment to the left side of the second floor, replacing the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Standards District office, according to Patty deLaBruere, the airport's security coordinator and business manager. A two-lane screening checkpoint should be in place by next month. Arriving passengers still would exit in the same place, so the circular traffic pattern should help ease second-floor congestion, deLaBruere said.
"It may not be pretty, but we're at least trying to get the room and the two lanes in place for the summer tourist season," she said. "It was a big concern of ours in having people wrapped around in every direction, especially near the stairs."
The airport added rest rooms inside the departure lounge this spring and is evaluating whether more stalls are needed, deLaBruere added. Another $150,000 in cruise ship passenger fee revenue this year also is designated for airport security improvements.
The 2003 capital budget also set aside $200,000 for covered sidewalks downtown recommended by the city's Downtown Revitalization Committee. Public Works and Facilities Committee Chairwoman Frankie Pillifant said Assembly members plan to talk about the item with Downtown Revitalization Committee members at a meeting July 17.
While the details still are being worked out, Pillifant said the project might include covered walkways from the Marine Park Garage to the Capitol or along Seward and Franklin streets in the core downtown business area. Some sidewalks already have partial covering.
The capital budget includes money for trail maintenance, a parking lot at Fox Farm Road and a Montana Creek bike trail. Pillifant said the capital projects list is fairly well balanced, although she would have liked to see more money spent on the city's recreation infrastructure. She has asked Assembly members to begin a policy discussion on next year's capital project list soon.
"What's important to know is the city is continuing to move forward in addressing the infrastructure needs in the community," she said.
Joanna Markell can be reached at email@example.com.