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City selects route for fisheries center road

Lena Point residents opposed to city's top choice for access route

Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

The city has picked the route for a road it would like to see built to a proposed fisheries research center at Lena Point and it is not a route favored by many residents.

Access to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries research center has spurred months of debate at Lena Point. Neighbors have said they want to maintain the rural character of the area and asked the city to build an overpass or take other steps to keep NOAA traffic off Lena Loop Road, the main route for residents.

From the beginning, residents have fought for a separate road to the facility, said Cheryl Fluck, president of the Lena Extended Neighborhood Association.

"It's hard to say that you mitigated for people when nobody agrees with it," she said.

In a draft environmental assessment released this month, the city favors a new access road along the southern interior of Lena Point. At a cost of $2.7 million, the road would depart South Lena Loop just north of the Federal Aviation Administration road and reconnect with South Lena Loop just north of Towers Road.

According to the proposal, the new intersection would sweep traffic on to the new access route.

"Anyone turning would automatically have to make a hard left to access the neighborhood. There's similar sweep at Towers Road," said Rorie Watt, an city engineer working on the project.

Signs would point traffic to use the new route, and NOAA has said it will direct employees to use the new road. The city will make winter snow removal on the new road a priority, according to the proposal.

"It's been a long process, but I think we have a good proposed alternative that can work for the project, the neighborhood, the city," Watt said.

Many Lena Point residents support the fisheries center, but object to the city's traffic plans, Fluck said. The "sweeping" intersection would make it more dangerous for school buses and cars traveling to Lena Loop, she said.

City staff members also are recommending the Assembly set aside $313,000 for a cul-de-sac or gates to keep traffic off Lena Loop if needed, depending on traffic levels. If 83 cars or more per day from the NOAA facility use Lena Loop, the city would use the money to further separate traffic, Watt said.

If money is available, the city also has proposed a pedestrian path from Towers Road to the Lena Point Park parking lot, reconstructing part of South Lena Loop and revising the NOAA entrance driveway.

According to the city's schedule, the new road should be complete by June 2003. Construction on the NOAA facility is expected to start next summer.

Copies of the draft environmental assessment are available from the city's engineering department and comments are due Oct. 8. The city is hosting a meeting about the plan from 7 to 9 tonight at Chapel by the Lake.

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Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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