Study holds reason to oppose road

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, March 13, 2005

ining the thought of a road out of Juneau, there are some hard questions that need to be asked. The Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will help formulate those questions.

Alternative 2, a highway up the east side of Lynn Canal, is the state's preferred option. However, under this alternative, "mainline AMHS service would end at Auke Bay." (EIS, S-2) Some of the everyday products we depend on, like food, are transported to Juneau via the marine highway system. Do we want these goods to arrive at the proposed Katzehin River ferry terminal instead of Auke Bay? The products would need to be transported to town along a road that crosses 61 avalanche paths. How long would we have to wait for those supplies when sections of the road have to be cleared due to avalanches?

We must also recognize the environmental impact that would result from the road. Alternative 2 will destroy 629 acres of terrestrial habitat, 92 acres of wetland habitat, and 31 acres of essential fish habitat. (EIS, S-15) What is the value of such a diverse environment? Can we possibly put a price tag on it? According to the EIS, "Compensatory mitigation ... has been discussed with resource agencies but there has been no resolution." (EIS, S-13) This means that the environment is highly valuable, yet extremely difficult to attach to it a dollar amount. Are we ready to diminish the value of these areas by laying down a road?

Finally, do the majority of us even want the road? Residents in Haines, Skagway, and Juneau have continually opposed the idea. (EIS, S-11) At the very least, we must agree on the need for the road before attempting to proceed with such a costly project.

Shawn Miller


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