Proposed bridge needs better process

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The concept of a road through Juneau's showcase wetlands wildlife refuge to connect Douglas Island with our main street - Egan Drive - appears to be driven by special interests. The primary objective seems to be encouraging urban sprawl on the private lands of North Douglas.

Community planners across America are developing ways to curb sprawl, which has tended to saddle cities with ever-expanding costs for water and sewer systems, transit including school buses, new schools, new fire control facilities, more police, more road maintenance and on and on, while city centers where these necessary facilities already exist are in decline.

Building a road through the refuge would seem to be in conflict with the spirit of our Comprehensive Plan, which was based on widespread public input.

The Juneau public recently paid for a number of hearings on this matter that were limited to considering only routes through the refuge. Testimony was not recorded. Any comments about other alternatives outside the refuge, of which there were many, were excluded from the record.

The public was not provided with the basic sort of information needed to make enlightened community decisions. There was no sort of cost estimate for routes in and outside the refuge, even though a Salmon Creek route is only half as long as the refuge routes and would connect directly with the hospital facilities.

There was no sort of traffic flow analysis to show how various alternatives could best serve the Juneau drivers.

There was no GIS review of the alternatives of how development on North Douglas would look and affect our economy, though the Community Development staff knows how to do this.

There was no review of how roads through the refuge would affect fish, birds, recreational pedestrians, hunters, visitors, tourists and other users.

There was no legal review about why the American public supports a prohibition on spending public funds for roads through wildlife refuges.

The result was a very superficial view about how a few people feel about a road through our refuge. Why can't we have a normal public process that provides good information and listens to everyone?

Jim King


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