In his recent My Turn, Chuck Collins asks everyone to use facts when considering the Juneau Road extension, but then fails to do so himself. Perhaps his most egregious error is the $150 million cost estimate he cites. The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has repeatedly said that it will cost over half a billion dollars to build the 50-mile road to the Katzehin River delta.
Another fact excluded from the My Turn is that constructing a road would necessitate an INCREASE in ferry infrastructure by adding a new terminal and dock at the Katzehin River and two new ferries to connect with Haines and Skagway. While the two new shuttle ferries are not included in the official cost estimate, the dead-end would be useless without them. Thus, we should add in the $120 million cost of each of these ferries, which brings the cost for the proposed Lynn Canal road/ferry system closer to $700 million. That is over four times the price Mr. Collins quoted. The cost is very important to consider when evaluating whether it is worth it to build the road.
Juneau, Skagway and Haines already have ferry terminals located more conveniently to the people in our communities, not less conveniently as Mr. Collins states.
I agree that our aging mainline ferries need to be replaced, but I fear that the plan to build a road north of Juneau will leave the the other coastal communities who rely on the ferry system high and dry. The Alaska Marine Highway System should benefit all of Alaska’s coastal communities. Our inside passage is a nationally recognized scenic highway and as such is a great value to the people of Alaska.