DOT puts out new Juneau Access Project document
Thursday, the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities put out a draft document that addresses environmental issues stemming from the battle to extend Juneau’s only highway north toward Haines and Skagway.
The 694-page draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the Juneau Access Project is a reaction to court challenges to the project’s 2006 environmental impact statement.
The new document maintains a preference to build a road along the east side of Lynn Canal, north to the Katzehin River. There, a new ferry terminal would make a short connection to Haines and the road system.
The new document attempts to fulfill a major regulatory hurdle to highway construction, estimated at $523 million. Ferry terminal and vessel construction is estimated to cost another $51 million.
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council was one of the parties to challenge the 2006 environmental impact statement. It may do so again, says Executive Director Malena Marvin.
“Our lawyers have not analyzed it yet but it’s likely that it will be challenged.”
The federal courts in 2009 and 2011 said the original statement failed to adequately consider improved ferry service as an alternative to building the road. The new document addresses that and revises outdated information.
DOT spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says the next step for the department is to collect public comments that will eventually be integrated into an additional report.
“Depending on how many comments we receive will determine the length of time it takes us to put together the environmental impact statement for review by the Federal Highway Administration before we can reach a record of decision. So, that could take several months or longer.”
The public comment period on the draft document is open until Nov. 10.