Assembly picks 3 spots for 2nd bridge

Panel decides Juneau airport is not suitable crossing point

Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Juneau Assembly on Monday picked three favorable locations for a second crossing over Gastineau Channel and scrapped the possibility of building it near the airport.

The city recommended areas near Vanderbilt Hill Road, Sunny Drive and Yandukin Drive for a second bridge to Douglas Island.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities told the city that to speed up the planning process, it needs to identify the steps it's taking before construction.

The Assembly approved a resolution Monday night saying the city supports the completion of the second stage of an environmental impact statement and adopts the 1997 City and Borough of Juneau and West Douglas Conceptual Plan as a general growth strategy. The resolution also narrows the scope of locations for a second bridge.

The city dropped an alternative to connect the bridge at an area west of the airport because it is near sensitive ecological systems and would be a distant outlet for traffic.

Other areas of environmental concern that the city said it would not touch are the western end of the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Reserve, the Mendenhall Peninsula, Fritz Cove, North Douglas in the vicinity of Fish Creek and areas near the mouth of Salmon Creek.

Primary reasons for building the bridge were outlined in the resolution. They included an emergency path in the case the existing Douglas bridge is closed.

The project is likely to spur economic development, according to the resolution. West and North Douglas could provide opportunities for relocating U.S. Coast Guard operations, links for cruise lines, shipping companies, as well as enhance development of fisheries and manufacturing.

The resolution also said the regions would provide land for a golf course and residential zoning.

Mayor Bruce Botelho said the bridge could cost at least $70 million and funds could come from a variety of sources, including the city and state reserves.

Representatives from the North Douglas Neighborhood Association said in a letter addressed to the Assembly that it is not opposed to the construction, but the city should be mindful of the effect traffic will have on the community.

Mike Stanley, a member of the association, testified that plans should include the bridge connecting to a "bench road" that directs traffic to a highway built a half mile up the hillside from the Douglas Highway. The bench road would minimize the effects on pedestrians, he said.

"This is going to tremendously impact North Douglas neighborhoods," Stanley said.



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