Studies support building a road

Posted: Monday, March 27, 2000

Several years ago, Juneau Sen. Jim Duncan secured funding for the Juneau Access study. This project was intended to methodically evaluate the different long-term options for surface transportation in and out of the capital city and to ultimately arrive at a preferred alternative.

To ensure that this public process would be immune from political meddling, the study was to focus exclusively on highly technical, engineering and economic considerations so that the outcome of the study could withstand a court challenge by anyone unhappy with the result.

After six years and over $5 million worth of study, DOT recently released the draft Environmental Impact Statement. The professional engineers and consultants hired to conduct this objective analysis determined that regardless of how one manipulated the numbers, the only option that met the ``purpose and need'' of the project was a road up the east side of Lynn Canal to Skagway with a shuttle ferry to Haines. DOT named the road as the preferred alternative.

Gov. Knowles recently announced his decision to ignore the recommendation of the Juneau Access study and substitute a plan of his own calling for a fast ferry that was never included in the study.

Now we hear those supporters for this ferry option ridiculing those of us who continue to push for the road. We are called poor losers.

Let's look at this in another way. Suppose the study had found that the best alternative was a fast ferry. Imagine that the governor chose to ignore the facts and disregard the public process and chose to build the road instead. Had that happened, do you think that those who supported the ferries would be silent? Of course not, and they shouldn't be. The public process is the means by which citizens can be assured that private political agendas do not influence decisions made by government.

Those of us who support the road only want what is best for Alaskans. The governor himself said that the road was the best in the long term. Now, let's get on with doing what is right. Build the road.

Terry R. Miller

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