Shepard Point-less

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, January 08, 2007

Last year, Alaska got national airtime for multiple infamous road and bridge to nowhere projects. It is an Alaska pastime. Does every Alaska town have a divisive road-building project? In our town, it's the story of a 4.5 mile coastal segment north of Cordova that would require an offshore road, several bridges, and despite the effort, hardly avoiding more than a dozen recognized avalanche chutes. The final destination itself was created by a landslide and avalanches are expected to bury part of the road each spring. Both Shepard Point and the right-of-way are privately owned. The project will cost taxpayers about $7 million per mile and no entity has stepped up to take onus for future maintenance - though the federal or state government (via the taxpayer) stands to foot the bill.

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This project is guised as a staging facility for oil spill response. Everyone knows the same purpose is better served at the Cordova ocean dock, closer to the boat harbor with more reliable access, despite the preferred alternative in the final environmental impact statement. Furthermore, the central spill response organization and stakeholder for such a project in the Prince William Sound, SERVS, has no expansion plans that include Shepard Point. This economic development project was designed before Exxon Valdez, and since the economics of logging, coal mining and deep-water cruise ship wharfing need public subsidies, the project has been re-titled. Marketing is everything. I don't blame them, who could argue with enhanced spill response? But I'm not buying it.

Lauren Padawer


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