Claims about SE roads are baseless

Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2004

If a tree falls in the middle of the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound? What if a log raft is untied in the middle of the forest and no one witnesses it, does it really happen? Lew Williams' Feb. 1 ramblings on ferries, roads and timber theft reminded me just how vast and remote Southeast Alaska is. Yes, many things can happen in the hundreds of miles between communities without any witnesses or helping hands, including the timber theft that Mr. Williams brushes aside as a fairy tale.

And speaking of the remoteness of Southeast communities, I had to wonder at Mr. Williams' explanation of the current lack of roads in our region. It's not the Roadless Rule, as he claims. Actually, the Roadless Rule specifically allows the construction of roads that connect and supply power to communities. Southeast Alaska doesn't have roads because they don't make fiscal sense here. We live in an island region jam-packed with steep mountains and huge ice fields, and the absence of the Roadless Rule won't change that.

Finally, whereas Mr. Williams went to great lengths to gather statistics on ferry costs and passenger loads, he offered no comparable figures for his replacement road system. Did you know that if we were to fund a second Permanent Fund with the money required just to construct (but not even operate) the proposed Juneau Access Road that the income would be enough to fly everyone in Southeast Alaska to Mexico each year? In fact, there'd be enough left over that we could throw in a few free ferry tickets for everyone as well. And that's just one small part of the road system he's proposing.

Skip Elliott


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