State's Douglas Bridge plan is back before the Assembly

Posted: Tuesday, September 02, 2003

A state plan to change the configuration of lanes on the Douglas Bridge to lessen traffic will be back before the Juneau Assembly on Wednesday.

The panel will hold a work session to revisit the plan, which was voted down at a previous Assembly committee meeting and by the Juneau Planning Commission.

State Department of Transportation officials have proposed changing the two-lane bridge to a three-lane route with a reversible center lane. Separate bike lanes would be eliminated, which has brought opposition from bicyclists.

The plan also would change traffic lanes on both sides of the bridge, widening the approach on the downtown side and adding a traffic circle on the Douglas side.

DOT has the authority to proceed with the project without local government support. However, department officials have said they want an indication of support before proceeding.

The plan has been before several city panels with varied results during the past nine months.

Planning commissioners last December voiced their support. But the Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club appealed, pointing out that lanes to be shared by cars and bikes would be narrower than allowed. DOT revised the design, but the commission left the plan unapproved in a July tie vote.

The Assembly's Public Works and Facilities Committee heard the plan later in July, voting in favor. But when it came before the Assembly's Committee of the Whole on Aug. 18, it failed.

Reconsideration was given and an attempt was made by Assembly member Ken Koelsch to bring the plan up for another vote at the end of the Aug. 25 regular Assembly meeting.

Freewheeler representative Rob Welton was at the meeting and objected to a vote, since it was not listed on the Assembly's agenda.

"It's not in the spirit of open government," he said.

Assembly members agreed to take up a resolution supporting the plan again at Wednesday's work session, at 5 p.m. in City Hall. City Manager Rod Swope said the plan could be up for an official vote at next Monday's regular Assembly meeting.

Swope said approval of a supporting resolution could put the bridge redesign back on track.

"If the Alaska Department of Transportation got this response from the Assembly, they would move forward on this project," he said.

The original deadline for city approval was Aug. 31, but it was extended at the city's request, Swope said.

Ed Schoenfeld can be reached at eschoenfeld@juneauempire.com.



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