Terrorism in road debate

Posted: Sunday, February 13, 2005

Everyone who has traveled on commercial aircraft since 9/11 knows the drill: show up early, don't pack scissors, and prepare to take off your shoes before walking through the airport security checkpoint. Mass transit will never be the same.

I've seen a lot of arguments both for and against the road out of Juneau, but none of them have taken potential terrorism into account. On March 11, 2004, terrorists in Madrid, Spain killed at least 190 people and injured several hundred more when Madrid's commuter trains were systematically bombed in a successful bid to influence the presidential elections. In October 1985, the world watched in horror as the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked by four heavily armed Palestinian terrorists and a 69-year-old American in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, was singled out of a passenger list and executed. Leon's limp body, and his wheelchair, were tossed overboard into the Mediterranean Sea.

Mass transit is a favorite target for terrorists. You may be thinking that the Alaska Marine Highway System won't be a target for terrorists. Well, neither was Alaska Airlines, but we're all waiting in security lines and removing our shoes nonetheless. When terrorists strike America's maritime transportation system, we'll all find out how much longer it takes to search a car, its cargo, and our persons, than it does to search an airline carry-on bag. We should be smart about our state's transportation options and not put all our eggs into one basket. We should not be confined to Juneau because of fog, snow or wind again. Our latest "high-speed" ferry, the Fairweather, has already proven it's unreliable, expensive to run and maintain, easily prone to collision damage, and can be mothballed due to labor disputes. We, like the pioneers who came before us, should be the trailblazers of freedom. We should build the road from Juneau to Skagway.

Steve Robertson


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