Transportation sense

Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2002

Joe Geldhof's My Turn on the Juneau access project contained few facts and a lot of innuendo. Surprisingly, I agree with his four facts: 1) It is essential that we complete the environmental impact statement. 2) An improved transportation system is vital to all of Southeast Alaska. 3) Unanimous agreement with respect to mode and route is not possible. 4) Juneau needs to unite to improve access to the capital if we want to continue to be the capital.

Mr. Geldhof claims that the process was biased toward the construction of a road. The Department of Transportation followed a highly defined EIS process to determine that a highway is the best alternative to improve access. It took seven years of study before the governor chose the road as the preferred alternative for further study.

Mr. Geldhof claims to oppose a process with a predetermined outcome. Yet, he wants to eliminate the common sense purposes for improving the system. He would eliminate the requirements that the travel mode would: 1) Provide the capacity to meet the demand. 2) Provide flexibility and improve opportunity to travel. 3) Reduce travel time between the communities. He may not want a predetermined outcome but he certainly wants to eliminate the requirement that the best mode of transportation would be selected.

Geldhof would like us to believe that the Department of Transportation overestimated the demand for travel in the Lynn Canal corridor. He, and others like him, share the mistaken belief that all of the people who want to travel that route are doing so on the existing ferry system. The fact is that most people who would like to travel do not do so because it is inconvenient and too expensive. It is just not possible for any ferry system to be truly convenient. It may be more convenient than walking or swimming, but having to depart at a specific time and wait in line for two hours is not convenient. As for the costs of travel, common sense tells us that lower costs increase demand. The costs of traveling on the Marine Highway System have and will continue to increase. The end result of increased fares should be better service, not reduced service as the "new study" clearly states.

Terry R. Miller


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