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State presents traffic plans for Auke Bay

Proposals include bypass road, circular roadways

Posted: Friday, October 03, 2003

Circular roadways, additional sidewalks and a bypass road around Auke Lake are among the state Department of Transportation's preliminary plans for transportation upgrades in the Auke Bay area.

DOT presented the plans to more than 50 people Thursday night at the Chapel by the Lake and is asking residents to submit comments within the next few weeks.

"This is a reconnaissance study and the purpose of a reconnaissance study is to look at all the issues," said Julianne Hanson, an environmental project manager with USKH, a consulting firm that helped develop the proposal.

Short-term plans for the Auke Bay Corridor study include two circular roadways, also known as roundabouts, on Glacier Highway. One would be built where Glacier Highway intersects with Fritz Cove Road and another would sit at the Back Loop Road intersection.

Lance Mearig, a project manager for USKH, said the Fritz Cove Road roundabout could reduce traffic congestion during peak drive times in the evening when residents are headed home from work.

He said traffic delays at the intersection are approaching 50 seconds in the evening. DOT classifies such intersections as failing.

"The advantages to a roundabout (over a traffic signal) is that traffic typically does not have to stop as it moves through the intersection," Mearig said, noting that roundabouts are less accident-prone than other types of intersections.

He said the traffic projections are based largely on projected population growth in Juneau. In its research, USKH also considered potential business growth in the area and the possibility of increased traffic brought on by construction of a road from Juneau to Skagway.

DOT's short-term plan also includes a left-turn lane to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lab at Auke Bay and sidewalks on both sides of Glacier Highway from Fritz Cove Road to the Spaulding Meadows trailhead. The plans also include adding sidewalks on Glacier Highway and realigning a section of Glacier Highway near the Auke Bay Post Office.

This plan would require widening that portion of Glacier Highway, resulting in the removal of five homes near the proposed turn lane.

Construction of the short-term projects would cost about $8.9 million, according to DOT Project Manager Michael Lukshin. The design phase of the project is expected to begin in the fall of 2004 and construction could begin sometime after 2009, Lukshin said.

Long-term plans are 20 to 50 years away, he said.

One of the most ambitious sections in the long-term plan would build a four-mile road beginning at Industrial Boulevard, running north of Auke Lake and ultimately connecting with Glacier Highway near Auke Nu Creek.

"We're looking at the potential of a bypass because it's been a topic of conversation for many years," Mearig said. "We don't take credit for thinking that up. The reason the bypass is attractive is it does allow traffic to make the connection from Glacier Highway to Back Loop Road."

Connecting Glacier Highway at Industrial Boulevard to Back Loop Road would be the first phase of the project, Mearig said.

Lukshin said the bypass project is expected to cost about $20.4 million. In all, long-term and short-term plans would cost about $43.3 million.

Hanson said once comments are received by DOT, the agency will begin work on design of the project and conduct a study of the environmental impacts.

For more information on the Auke Bay Corridor Study visit http://abcor.alaska.gov. Comments can be faxed to 465-3506 and sent by e-mail to michael_lukshin@dot.state.ak.us.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothyi@juneauempire.com.

Short-term proposals:

• Roundabout at the Glacier Highway and Fritz Cove Road intersection.

• Left turn lane into the Auke Bay NOAA lab.

• Sidewalk on both sides of Glacier Highway from Fritz Cove Road to the Spaulding Meadows Trail parking lot near the Alaska Marine Highway ferry terminal.

• Roundabout at the Glacier Highway and Back Loop Road intersection.

• Realignment of sharp curves in the road near the Auke Bay Post Office and Stablers Point.

Long-term proposals:

• Bypass road starting at Industrial Boulevard, running along the east side of Pedersen Hill, crossing Back Loop Road at Goat Hill and connecting to Glacier Highway near Auke Nu Creek.

• Road connecting Back Loop Road to the bypass road.

• Roundabout at Back Loop Road and bypass connector road intersection.

• Sidewalks on both sides of Back Loop Road from the bypass connector road and on the bypass connector road to the University of Alaska Southeast/National Guard joint-use facility.

• Seawalk from Spaulding Meadows trailhead to the Auke Bay ferry terminal.



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