Ferry decision points to problems

Posted: Friday, March 17, 2000

Ever since the governor came out with his fast ferry plan, I have heard a lot on the radio and read a lot in the paper about fast ferries. A couple of days ago Jamie Parsons, the former mayor of Juneau, presented his views on this issue. For what it is worth I think Mr. Parsons' statements were good and needed to be said. I must run in the wrong circles because I don't know anyone who supports the governor's fast ferry scheme.

One of the recent letters to the editor referred to those who oppose the fast ferries and support the road and who voiced opposition to the governor's plan as sore losers. I feel, as Mr. Parsons pointed out, the issue is a lot bigger than that. The real issue appears to be a lack of leadership on this very important state issue.

The government has certainly silenced a very vocal minority opposing the road. He got a pat on the back from the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, the state's ferry workers and some business people in Haines and Skagway that felt their businesses would be impacted by the road.

As Mr. Parsons pointed out, the real transportation experts for the state, the Alaska Department of Transportation, after extensive studies and substantial cost, determined that the ``preferred alternative'' for access to Juneau was the road. The governor's fast ferry plan appears to be the product of this governor's endless pursuit for political correctness and the fact that some of his key staff have little real transportation experience other than some ferry experience with marine highways.

The governor's fast ferry plan provides a good argument for the establishment of a transportation commission whose main function would be to plan for the state's transportation needs and to set priorities for major transportation projects. Other states use this approach to their transportation planning with very good results. Such a commission would be free from political influence and would save the people from getting saddled with the ``half-baked'' transportation plans of politicians.

Edwin Johnson



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