By Lilly Milman 

The borough assembly on June 6 approved temporarily expanding one SMART bus parking zone and creating a new bus zone across the street. 

These changes are part of an assembly resolution to rearrange several no-parking zones, loading zones, public parking zones and SMART bus zones to make more efficient use of available parking in Skagway.

The SMART bus zone on the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Spring Street will be temporarily extended to 80 feet long, while a new 100-foot-long bus zone is being added on the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Spring Street.

After borough crews paint the curbs and install the signs for the new bus stop, the 80-foot-long bus stop on the northwest corner will revert back to 35 feet. Borough Clerk Emily Deach said the new SMART bus zone work is scheduled for completion by the end of the week.

Assemblymember Orion Hanson’s motion on June 6 to permanently extend the 35-foot zone to a 45-foot zone to create more room for SMART buses failed to pass. Responding to Hanson’s motion, Assemblymember David Brena explained there is a 15-foot-long pull-in zone at the bus stop, giving bus drivers a total of 50 feet to steer into place. 

The issue of parking zones came up during the borough assembly meeting on May 16, but the topic was postponed to allow the Public Safety Committee time to reconsider the resolution. 

At the assembly meeting on May 16, SMART bus owner Stuart Brown argued that the bus parking zone on Spring Street should be 80 feet long, rather revert back to 35 feet after the second stop is ready for use. Brown said a 35-foot space is a safety concern because of the length of his buses. 

“For one thing, my buses are longer than 30 feet,” Brown said. “Yesterday, there was a White Pass truck parked right at the post, just inches from it.” With another vehicle parked so close to the stop, there is not enough room for buses to get in and out of the space, he said. Being squeezed like that, Brown said, would push the bus out of its designated area. “That means we would be parked illegally.” 

Sometimes, buses do not have enough space to pull back into traffic, Brown said. In particular, his six SMART buses with wheelchair accessibility, out of the fleet of 10, need more space at the curb.