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If it ain't broke, fix it anyway

Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Here we go again. Is it not evident, to any reasonable person, that the bulk of the proposed changes to the Douglas Bridge is little more than a half-baked plan by state DOT bureaucrats trying to justify their existence by fixing something that is so obviously not broken? Furthermore, the near-unanimous rubber stamp approval by our ever-willing CBJ Assembly reflects a complete lack of concern for the safety of Douglas and Juneau residents commuting across the bridge on a daily basis by accepting, in particular, the proposal for what will clearly be a narrow and dangerous reversible third lane.

I have lived on Douglas Island for 10 years and commute daily during the so-called morning rush hour. I can definitively and without any reservations say there is absolutely not a problem with excessive traffic on the bridge itself that can even begin to justify an estimated $8 million expenditure of state DOT funds.

Additionally, the last time I checked, the state of Alaska was still facing a budget crisis that just might encourage the intelligent and prudent use our available transportation funds. It seems obvious, based on DOT's proposal, that those criteria were not part of the planning process for this particular project.

Maybe, as a precursor to the final approval of this project, we should send some key Juneau Assembly members and DOT planners down to the Seattle-Tacoma area on a fact-finding mission so they can get an up close and personal view of what a real traffic problem looks like. While there, they can take a swing through the city of University Place to chat with some of the residents about their beloved roundabouts and how well they don't accommodate even moderate volumes of traffic. Then, upon return, with their new perspective, DOT and CBJ could come up with a safer, more fiscally prudent and efficient proposal for moving traffic on and off the bridge.

The bottom line is that the plan for the reversible third lane is a joke and an unsafe one at that. I don't think it is too much to ask that DOT go back to the drawing board, come up with a plan to improve the access and traffic flow on both sides of the bridge, eliminate the reversible third lane, and safely accommodate all of the potential users of the bridge whether they be pedestrian, peddled or powered.

Gary Patton

Douglas



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