As you’re most likely aware, the comment period is currently open for the Juneau Douglas North Crossing — also known as the Second Crossing — PEL (Planning and Environmental Linkages) Study. The comment and open survey period has been extended to Friday, Feb. 3.
We’re here to tell you folks that alternatives that cross the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge are fatally flawed and should not be advanced in the PEL study process or in an Environmental Impact Statement.
- This project is uniquely susceptible to fatally flawed alternatives because of the tremendous wildlife, habitat, ecosystem services, recreational, and viewshed values of Taashuyee, the Mendenhall Wetlands. Again, alternatives which cross the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge are fatally flawed and should not be advanced in the PEL process or in an Environmental Impact Statement. (Watch: The history of the refuge.)
- The purpose and need of the study should be clarified to avoid impacting the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge and the Salmon Creek, Lemon Creek, Mendenhall River, and Fish Creek estuaries. For more information on the ecosystem services provided by Southeast Alaska estuaries, check out the SeaBank 2022 Annual Report on Page 20 — Highest Valued Ecosystems: SeaBank Estuaries.
- There is not a demographic demand or need for this project. Juneau is not growing and is projected by the Alaska State Demographer to shrink by over 10% through 2050. This places a particularly high burden of proof for a need for this project and is critical in weighing the relative importance of alternatives that cross the Mendenhall Wetlands. This project will likely increase community sprawl and create a services cost burden for all community members.
- Alternatives that reduce the short-duration traffic pressure on the existing Douglas Bridge and intersections should be evaluated, including non-crossing opportunities such as improved public transportation and area-wide housing density improvements.
- The expenditure of large amounts of federal tax dollars in a community that is not growing for a project which would expand the community footprint is, at best, questionable.
Be sure to make your voices heard and let DOWL know that there are better ideas than crossing the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge.
As you’re filling out the survey or using the SEACC comment portal, ask yourself, what kind of community do we want to pass on to future generations? A thoughtful community that works to minimize its impact on critical natural areas, or one that goes pedal to the metal chasing illusive growth?