Don't hide behind safety issues

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, January 19, 2007

Either you want a road out of Juneau or you don't. You just can't hide your true motives behind safety issues that are nonfactors. You either think the state should spend large amounts of money in the short term with extreme benefit to the people and some cost to the land, or you have a long-term view with the state spending at an extreme cost to the people of Juneau and no cost to the land. If you are going to take a stand like Mr. Wolf in Tuesday's Juneau Empire, then you must take a stand and not throw in "safety" to try and solidify your position.

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The key word for today is mitigation. Any simple Google search on this subject will bring up a large number of reports about avalanche danger in the northern hemisphere. Without mitigation there are a large number of roads that far surpass the avalanche danger of the Juneau access project. Heck, I do believe our own Thane Road has an unmitigated avalanche rating that, according to most reports, is higher than any single piece of highway of the same size in the state.

I won't lie to you; if you get caught in an avalanche you could have a big problem. If you need to take a look at how bad it can get, take a drive out Thane Road or search for some of the numerous video clips of the avalanche mitigation crew from the Department of Transportation. Scary stuff. But with mitigation, the Thane Road is one of the safest roads that you can drive on and be exposed to that type of danger.

We need to do something to help alleviate the high cost of travel and shipping in and out of Juneau. If people don't want to extend the road, so be it. But build a terminal at the end of the road for some type of fast service between the northern Lynn Canal communities. Free up the mainline state ferries to better serve other communities, most of which are neglected when there is an inevitable breakdown of a mainliner. Give some sort of tax break to a company that would operate a barge servicing some of the other communities in the northern panhandle.

The system is not sustainable and very wasteful in terms of money and resources. If you want to try and shoot down every transportation idea because you want to go to Berners Bay and hug some bunnies, that's fine. Just give everyone a good alternative.

Charles Drummond


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