Second Douglas crossing put on back burner

Posted: Thursday, October 07, 2010

With the voters largely slamming down a proposition to continue the 1 percent temporary sales tax for 10 years to fund a second crossing to North Douglas, the project now sits on a back burner.

The measure received 2,411 yes votes and 4,844 no votes.

Mayor Bruce Botelho said the future of the second crossing project depends upon the new City Assembly, as two new members were voted in Tuesday.

"I think the first step is whether the new assembly will continue to identify it as a top priority or not," he said. "I don't expect it to change, but it could."

Botelho said that will be determined when the assembly meets at a retreat later this month to determine goals. The date has not yet been set.

Botelho isn't sure what will happen with the 1 percent sales tax, but said the process with the second crossing was unusual in the length of the designation - all prior projects were in the 3-4 year range - and that it was asked for three years in advance of the tax expiration. Normally, the question is called a year prior. He anticipates discussion on what could be funded with an extension and other details to occur closer to the tax expiration date.

Rick Shattuck, chairman of Safe, Affordable, Future, Efficient, or SAFE, Committee, said they haven't yet discussed their role going forward since the results just came out Tuesday. But, Shattuck believes the next step lies with the assembly.

"One thing we heard repeatedly is that they were for a crossing, but not this process and not this funding mechanism," Shattuck said. "I think the city needs to answer those questions for the public."

He noted that a group of citizens standing up and trying to make that case a second time probably wouldn't be the most effective.

"As a citizen, I intend to keep my eye on this and urge the city to move it forward," he said. "When that takes place, I just have no prediction on that."

Assemblyman Merrill Sanford, who participated in a forum supporting the measure, believes the project will be on the back burner for a while.

"We've got kind of a mandate that the people don't want anything to do with it," he said. "I imagine we're going to let it rest for a little while. At least, maybe another group might start being active in it and give us direction on how they want to do it. I don't really see us doing anything unless there's a group that wants us to start spending money on permits. The assembly itself probably seems ready to put it to rest for a little while anyway and see what happens."

Sanford also referred to the meeting either later this month or in early November where the new assembly will meet and discuss goals and objectives.

"I imagine that (the crossing) would drop down to a way lower priority, especially with no money available to do anything," he said.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@ juneauempire.com.



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