Road could improve locals' lives

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2005

The first time I was able to read a bumper sticker was about 25 years ago at Cope Park. "Build The Road" it read. Over the next two decades I came to understand that this controversy is actually part of Juneau's culture. Some readers will turn their minds off as soon as they realize that this letter is pro-road. Personally, I would like the freedom to be able to drive out of Juneau at my convenience. But more importantly, I would like to look at how this would impact others and the community as a whole.

Most of the arguments against the road to Skagway are based on irrational fallacies. Surely those that argue the geological dangers of the road have not driven in Switzerland, the Alcan, or the Top of the World Highway. A fairly straight hour and a half drive will be no more dangerous than Thane Road or the residential areas of Behrends and Basin Roads.

Another argument is about the almost $300 million price tag. The State wants to connect communities by road. These are mostly state funds, not local funds. Even if it were built entirely with city funds, how long will it take for our communities to make up that amount of money - 10, 20, 50 years? The road will still be here and pumping money into gas stations, hotels, and tourist shops. The road would increase the amount of jobs available in the Juneau and Skagway boroughs.

Some worries have been about the increase in transient population here to Juneau. Transient people might move here to try and improve their quality of life. It seems like some people don't want them to have that option. It is easy for people living in their ivory towers to look down and use their leisure time to write letters expressing that they don't want the road because it might make the parks a little more crowded or traffic more congested. There is an elitist mentality here in Juneau that fights against roads, mines, or Fritz Cove development because life is already good for those vocal few. Most of the controversial development around Juneau will offer more jobs and opportunities to people who really need them. I am disappointed with people who don't want to be inconvenienced so they overlook how development can drastically improve a neighbor's life.

Michael Heiman


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