A threat to the ferry system

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, January 21, 2005

Well, from the news I find that the Department of Transportation's (DOT) plan to rationalize the Alaska State Northern Ferry route by proposing different road accesses to Sitka to reduce costs has reached Juneau.

Right now none of these plans are acceptable to most of the folks here in Sitka. The routes to the proposed places in Chatham Strait are full of fall and winter hazards: They are long, unpopulated, subjected to heavy snows and avalanches, heavy winds concentrate themselves in the narrow valleys also making this highway hazardous to vehicles like vans and long freighter.

All the proposed roads are subjected to heavy snows, even the one to Rodman Bay increasing the $4,000 a mile maintenance per-year projection costs. I am assuming that much of the road will be over the hills with higher elevations that will be encountered to get to Rodman Bay.

The cost of building these roads will be prohibitively expensive, negating the value of what the fuel consumption is to be projected, negating any savings for the Alaska Marine Highway System for perhaps the next 15,000 years.

What I see out of any of these roads is a loss of the ferry system for Sitka for at least six months a year because the state will have the same problem that they think that they have with the present ferry system, the cost of keeping an extended road open for ferry traffic once or twice a week during the season of snow.

Ralph Guthrie


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