The intersection by Juneau’s Fred Meyer grocery store has long been one of the borough’s most dangerous. One person died and four were medevaced after a crash there on Saturday — the latest of 50 crashes that have happened there over the last decade.
State transportation officials hope to eventually put stoplights at the intersection of Egan and Yandukin drives, add a pedestrian bridge and make other major changes. But there’s no timeline for that work.
“Our plans have been drawn up and all that, but it hasn’t been funded,” said Sam Dapcevich, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Transportation.
In the meantime, they’re planning smaller changes: extending the medians, painting clearer markings and introducing a seasonal speed limit reduction.
From Nov. 1 to Jan. 31, the speed limit from Mendenhall Loop Road to the Sunny Point interchange will be 45 mph. It will reduce the speed limit near the Fred Meyer intersection by 10 mph.
“The majority of the crashes take place during those darker months,” Dapcevich said.
Dapcevich said longer medians will get drivers closer to the turn. The idea is to make it easier for drivers to see oncoming traffic.
Saturday’s crash occurred as one driver turned left toward Fred Meyer and another was driving north on Egan, according to Juneau police. It’s the first fatality at that intersection recorded in state data, Dapcevich said.
In Nov. 2019, five people were hospitalized after a crash during a similar turn. Between 2005 and 2017, most crashes at the intersection happened during left turns, either onto Yandukin Drive or toward Fred Meyer.
As DOT works to find funding, Juneau may have other avenues to make the intersection safer.
Katie Koester, Juneau’s engineering and public works director, said the city recently received a Safe Streets For All planning grant. In partnership with DOT, the city will analyze all streets in the borough – both city streets and state streets like Egan.
“From that plan, we’ll be able to identify not just the highest priority areas for safety improvements, but also an implementation plan for both small and large projects,” she said.
Those projects could include low-cost improvements for pedestrians and more expensive ones, like major intersection improvements. Koester expects the planning process to take at least a year.
“I can’t promise that that will be the solution for this particular problem,” Koester said about the Fred Meyer intersection. “But I can tell you that that intersection will definitely be highlighted in that plan, just given the accident history there.”
At an Assembly meeting on Monday, member Michelle Hale said she plans to work on a resolution asking DOT to expedite safety improvements at the Fred Meyer intersection.