Rich Poor's most recent "My Turn" puts forth the misguided mentality that the more ground that's paved, the better off we are. It doesn't seem to matter much to him if the area to be paved is of great ecological value, is part of what draws cruise ships to this city and has terrain that just isn't meant for a road. This mentality has led to an attempt to justify a $256 million perilous road to a shuttle ferry terminal.
In this latest effort, he warned about so-called "scare tactics" being used to influence our positions on the road-ferry hybrid. Then he stooped to actual scare tactics by bringing up horrific ferry tragedies halfway around the world in an attempt to put down Alaska's marine highway system. The road would be much more dangerous than our current system. The Department of Transportation, by its own figures, estimates that there will be six deaths in the first 30 years of the road's existence. This unfortunate prediction is understandable considering the 36 avalanche chutes Mr. Poor implies will not be a problem.
Mr. Poor says the road-ferry hybrid will make travel cheaper - not for the 45 percent of passengers who either don't have a car (like me) or don't need or want to travel with their car. I can get to the Auke Bay terminal for cheap right now, but how much would I have to fork over for a 90-mile cab fare to the Katzehin River terminal? One hundred dollars one way?
I agree with Mr. Poor that our ferries are aging - which is why we should invest in upgrading them. Instead, the state is planning to divert $126 million originally slated for the Alaska Marine Highway System, including replacements of a mainliner and the LeConte, and put it towards the road-ferry hybrid.
When I visited family and friends in the Midwest over the holidays, I showed them the pictures I took while on the ferry one cloudless day in September. Besides expressing awe at the beauty of Lynn Canal, they couldn't believe it when I told them that the state was actually planning on building a road on its steep slopes. There are many great natural areas in the Midwest, but nothing quite like Lynn Canal. We should celebrate the Inside Passage, not pave it over.
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