DATE: February 6, 2001

TO: Planning Commission

FROM: Heather Marlow, Community Development Department

FILE NO.: CSP2001-00001

PROPOSAL: A City Project Review of intersection improvements at Marine Way and South Franklin Street.

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  • GENERAL INFORMATION

    Applicant: CBJ Engineering Department

    Property Owner: City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ), State of Alaska

    Project Location: Intersection of Marine Way and South Franklin Street

    Project Length: Approximately .2 miles

    Zoning: Mixed-Use and Waterfront Commercial

    Utilities: CBJ Sewer and Water

    Existing Land Use: Right-of-Way and Public Parking

    Surrounding Land Use: North – Retail/Restaurant

    South – CBJ Parking Garage

    East - Retail/Residential

    West - Alaska Steamship Dock

    INTRODUCTION

    Traffic and pedestrian improvements in the vicinity of the Marine Way/South Franklin Street intersection have been considered and addressed in several recent planning and construction projects. Along with other suggestions, the 1997 City Center Transportation Improvement Plan for the CBJ included a recommendation to modify the subject intersection by installing a roundabout. The 1998 Main Street to Ferry Terminal Facilities Rehabilitation Project, completed by Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT), implemented several of the improvements presented in the 1997 City Center Improvement Plan. The 1998 project focused on improving pedestrian facilities and safety for existing roads and intersections.

    With the development of the Area Wide Transportation Plan (AWTP), the Transportation Steering Committee (TSC) has received a recommendation from its consultant "to evaluate the feasibility of constructing a roundabout sufficient in size to accommodate design vehicles" at the intersection. The TSC gave the project a high priority in the downtown sub-area. The Assembly has authorized an appropriation to fund planning, design and construction of the project. The project is out for bid at this time. The project is intended to be completed in early May.

    The CBJ Engineering Department formed a CBJ/DOT working group to review and comment on the project and has conducted a public comment and review process.

     

    BACKGROUND

    The following objectives were developed for the project:

    1) Improve the safety and efficiency for pedestrians within the project area consistent with access needs of adjacent businesses and facilities.

    2) Improve the safety and efficiency of the parking garage entrance/exit.

    3) Examine alternatives for vehicle turning options, such as a roundabout.

    4) Examine alternatives that minimize impacts to on-street parking.

    The consultant and the working group considered the project objectives, the known and anecdotal vehicle and pedestrian data for the area and developed two alternatives. The preferred alternative, as described below, has been presented to the CBJ Public Works and Facilities Committee, the public and the CBJ Harbor Board.

    The applicant has submitted conceptual design plans and a description of the project and process, which are provided as attachments.

     

    PROJECT DESCRIPTION

    Pedestrian Safety and Efficiency

    In the vicinity of the Alaska Steamship Dock, the project focuses pedestrian crossings of Marine Way and South Franklin Street into two major crosswalks. The crosswalks are wider than existing crosswalks and will be set off from the surrounding asphalt by color and/or texture to provide stronger visual direction to pedestrians and to give drivers a cue to reduce speed. In the project area, the sidewalk width is increased on South Franklin Street and Admiral Way to 15 feet.

    Transit Service

    Expansion of the South Franklin Street sidewalk will remove the Capital Transit bus pull-out. Capital Transit plans to discontinue using this stop when its transit center/terminus is moved from the Cruise Ship Terminal to another location downtown. The stop will likely be moved to the shelter/curb cut immediately adjacent (west) of the parking garage entrance. The curb cut will accommodate the stop on routes that travel back towards Main Street or continue onto South Franklin Street. Future management decisions will address the access priority (tour loading or Transit) of the stop.

    Large Vehicle Turnaround

    The consultant contacted large vehicle users of this intersection and discussed state/federal requirements with DOT. The intersection is designed to accommodate existing and anticipated vehicle stock from Capital Transit, Alaska Marine Lines, Delta Western and tour operators. The turnaround is anticipated to reduce the number of trips that tour buses exiting the Alaska Steamship Dock make on South Franklin Street.

    Parking Garage

    The project changes Marine Way into a one-way street directly in front of the parking garage entrance. The change, along with adding a refuge median between the garage entrance and exit lanes, while reduce the vehicle and pedestrian conflicts encountered by exiting vehicles. All exiting vehicles will turn right; vehicles desiring to travel north will make an immediate left.

    The entrance/exiting problem was presented as both a safety and efficiency deficiency. Staff and garage users indicated that congestion in the intersection is problematic, especially during busy summer days when cruise ships were in port. The problems cited were delays in exiting the garage and pedestrian related delays when traveling through the intersection. Anecdotal reports of wait times ranged from 5 to 10 minutes. The project is anticipated to improve site access/circulation and therefore the use and perception of the parking garage.

    On-Street Parking

    The project impacts public on-street parking in several areas. The South Franklin Street sidewalk expansion will eliminate two parallel parking spaces, in front of Cha Gallery. The Admiral Way sidewalk expansion will eliminate all of the angled parking spaces (10 spaces) in front of the Red Dog Saloon and the Warner Building. The project is designed to provide six parallel parking spaces along the new curb. There are seven angled parking spaces on the south side of Admiral Way that will be retained, one of which is an accessible space.

    The new crosswalk, north of Admiral Way will be constructed through the existing B loading zone, which is approximately 90 feet in length. The B zone is used by permitted operators of smaller tour/shuttle vehicles, including vans and taxis. Approximately 50’ of curb area will remain between the crosswalk and the parking garage entrance. This area could be used for the transit stop and/or the B zone. Additional B zone parking will be established by collaborative management decisions from CBJ departments. Parking options for additional B zone loading include, but are not limited to, parallel spaces along Admiral Way, angled parking along Admiral Way or the parking garage.

    In brief, 19 year round public parking spaces, 90 feet of B zone loading and one transit stop are within the project limits. After the project is completed, 7 public parking spaces, 130 feet of parallel parking (to be managed for B zone loading and/or public parking) and a transit stop, will be available. The management, or ratio, of permit parking and public parking, and the priority of transit at the Marine Way stop, will be determined by the CBJ at a later date. Prior to the relocation of the police station, 13 year round public parking spaces were available within the project limits.

    Lighting, Landscaping and Street Furniture

    The project proposes to relocate and install new light standards that are typical in the historic area. Of note, the crosswalk north of Admiral Way will have four light posts installed, two at each end. To meet state/federal requirements, one or two highway light standards will be installed in the vicinity of the parking garage. See sheets 15 and 16 for more detail.

    The project proposes to install landscaping on the traffic islands and pedestrian refuges as depicted on sheets 13 and 14. The CBJ Engineering Department anticipates a follow-up project in this area in the next year or two that will examine the possibility of creating a temporary pedestrian mall or an event area in Admiral Way. The upcoming project would address additional landscaping, planting and street furniture in the current project area as well.

    ANALYSIS

    As discussed below, the proposed project was reviewed for compliance with the CBJ Comprehensive Plan, Title 49 and the Capital Improvement Program.

    Comprehensive Plan

    The Comprehensive Plan provides several policies and implementing actions that apply to the project.

  • Policy 2.11 It is the policy of the CBJ to expand the role of Downtown Juneau as the civic, cultural and economic center of the community through careful urban design and planning of public and private facilities.

    Implementing Action 2.11.4 Facilitate the pedestrian usage of Downtown including:

    Encourage development, which improves pedestrian facilities.

    Repair and widen sidewalks.

    Policy 2.12 It is the policy of the CBJ to encourage tourism, convention and other visitor-related activities through the development of appropriate facilities and services, while protecting Juneau’s natural and cultural attractions for local citizens and visitors alike, and to participate in the accommodation of the future growth of tourism in a manner that addresses both community and industry concerns.

    Policy 4.2 It is the policy of the CBJ to promote a balanced, well-integrated local transportation system which balances safe, convenient and energy efficient access and facilitates the movement of commodities.

    Policy 4.3 It is the policy of the CBJ to promote and facilitate transportation alternatives to automobiles as a means of reducing congestion and air pollution and conserving energy.

    Implementing Action 4.3.14 Identify pedestrian routes in the Downtown area. Include provisions for rest areas, and methods to reduce the conflicts between pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic.

    Policy 4.5 It is the policy of the CBJ to plan for the timely and efficient provision of an appropriate level of public facilities and services in all developed and developing areas of the CBJ.

  • The project objectives provided in the background section above, and the resulting project, are compatible with the Comprehensive Plan as the development will improve the safety, efficiency and function of the area for all users.

    Title 49, CBJ Land Use Code

    The provisions of the Land Use Code do not specifically apply to the project. However, utilizing historic district light standards and street furniture supports the concept of identifying and enhancing the Downtown Juneau historic district. The project also supports the intent of employing thoughtful urban design to preserve the harmony of scale, architectural style and material of the locale (49.70.500-530).

    The applicant has stated that a follow-up project may be proposed within the next year or two. Among other elements, the project may consider temporary closures/uses of Admiral Way, additional street furniture/landscaping, the extension of median islands in the right-of-way and the redevelopment of the sidewalk immediately north of the project area, along Marine Way. Provisions of the Land Use Code, including subdivision requirements may be applicable to this project.

    The Land Use Code regulates parking requirements for land use developments but not public or on-street parking. As this project modifies public parking, the provisions of the code do not apply. Public parking in this area is managed by several CBJ departments.

    Improvements to conditions at the garage entry are anticipated to increase the attraction, or occupancy, of the parking garage. The average number of occupied spaces in the summer is 182 spaces, opposed to an average of 164 spaces in the off-season. The parking garage offers 297 spaces.

    Relative to other intersection improvement alternatives, including a standard roundabout, the proposed project retains the greatest amount of on-street parking. 

    Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

    Typically public projects are funded or tracked through the CIP project list. The Assembly has funded this project from the passenger fee program that supports a separate project list aimed at mitigating tourism impacts.

    JCMP REVIEW

    The project was reviewed for compliance with the Juneau Coastal Management Program. Provisions of the program do not apply to the project. However, the applicant has included several general construction notes to control on-site storm water run-off by using temporary erosion/sediment control procedures where necessary (see sheet 2, notes 9 and 17).

    FINDINGS

    After review of the project submittals the director makes the following findings:

    1. The project protects and improves the safety of the area for all users.

    2. The project improves the efficiency and circulation of the area for all users.

    3. The project reduces year round parking in favor of enhanced pedestrian facilities that improve the experience

    of the area for all users.

    4. The project complies with the guidance and policies of the CBJ Comprehensive Plan and the provisions of
    Title 49.
    5. Provisions of the Juneau Coastal Management Program do not apply.

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  • STAFF RECOMMENDATION

    We recommend that the Planning Commission adopt the director’s analysis and findings and recommend approval of the Marine Way and South Franklin Street Intersection Improvement Project to the Assembly.