A valid idea whose time hasn't come yet

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, March 08, 2007

I am among those who think a second channel crossing is superfluous at this time, but I disagree with Stuart Cohen (Feb. 16) and Andy Grossman (Feb. 28) about the viability of the concept. The fact Juneau's population has been essentially static for years makes the issue largely academic right now, but the city is not wrong to plan for it in the long-range future.

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The crossing would no doubt encourage what Cohen labels "suburban sprawl," which is a highly relative term compared with the real thing in Los Angeles or Denver, but for those of us who don't relish the idea of living in one of his "vibrant urban environments" that is not an issue. Most people who live out North Douglas do so because they value some elbow room. If there is a problem developing this part of our town it's the expense of the infrastructure (water, sewer, street maintenance, etc.) per unit of housing.

Those costs should be and are largely reflected in the costs of home ownership, especially when full utility service is achieved. Ultimately, the second crossing concept doesn't negate the mixed, higher-density use Cohen and Grossman call for in any case. They make valid points about zoning options that could and should be considered.

The work so far on the crossing hasn't addressed the laundry list of questions Grossman and many others raise. I have serious qualms simply because of the effects some of my friends and neighbors would be forced to absorb.

The concept, however, is valid and the process the city is taking to identify a preferred site before addressing the myriad of permitting issues is an imperfect but good-as-any approach. Once that is accomplished, we can decide whether we actually want to go ahead with the project and how we'll pay for it.

Rick Kaufman


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