We have been following recent discussions on the Juneau Access Project with interest and believe it is time to make our collective views known.
We represent all former Southeast regional directors of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities since 1968. As professional engineers, we have been responsible for planning, design, construction, and maintenance and operations of transportation systems in Southeast Alaska. During our respective tenures improved transportation service for the Lynn Canal corridor has been the most significant unmet need in the region.
The corridor is the most serious transportation bottleneck in Alaska. The traffic demand is over 200,000 vehicles per year, yet for 10 years only 30,000 vehicles per year have used the ferry system.
After five years and $5 million of study the DOTPF's Draft Environmental Impact Statement irrefutably shows that the preferred alternative for improving transportation service in Lynn Canal is a road to Skagway with a short shuttle ferry service to Haines. Gov. Knowles has said he supports this position but has suspended work on the EIS due to other funding needs.
However, since no other option can meet the traffic demand, provide affordable service for users, reduce state operating and maintenance costs, as effectively as the road, we believe it is prudent to complete the EIS process.
To complete the process the Legislature will need to authorize $2 million in federal funding and ensure that the funding is included in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.
Once the EIS is completed, funding needs to be obtained for construction. Never before has the opportunity been so great to fund this project given the present position of Alaska's delegation in Congress and with over $400 million per year in federal transportation funds (significantly up from previous funding formulas) being directed to Alaska for each of the next several years.
Accordingly, we would appreciate your favorable action to provide the funding authorization necessary to complete the Juneau Access EIS project while the information and studies paid for to date are still valid.
Warren WildSandy WilliamsJon ScribnerRobert Martin