Juneau access road will be a beautiful gift

Posted: Thursday, May 01, 2008

Letters and My Turns opposing the Juneau access road are appearing regularly in the Empire.

Coincidentally, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council recently mailed out a postcard to its membership and Sierra Club and Lynn Canal Conservation Council members (notice letters from Haines residents?) urging them to contact the media and Gov. Sarah Palin to try to stop the road.

SEACC hasn't confined its onslaught to Juneau.

In a letter to the Department of Transportation, the mayor of Ketchikan attacked the road and last week, an anti-road opinion piece appeared in the MatSu Frontiersman. Both attacks contained verbiage taken directly from SEACC anti-road propaganda. On Wednesday, KTUU aired a "news report" about two anti-road hikers touring the Southcentral telling whoever will listen that the terrain along Lynn Canal is steep.

Road opponents have a full-time paid advocate in command of their mission who maintained a constant presence in the Capitol during legislative session, trying to sour legislators on our road.

SEACC is a predatory group heavily funded by outside interests determined to stop development in Southeast Alaska. Its strategy now is to pressure the governor to stop the first of several highway projects that are necessary to save our marine highway system and dramatically improve surface transportation in Southeast.

SEACC's influence over the political leadership in Juneau is distressing. Our mayor joined SEACC at its news conference to announce a lawsuit against the road; Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, crashed a Senate Transportation Committee hearing this session and used SEACC-generated questions to attack DOT.

Four of nine Juneau Assembly members did not support a resolution favoring the road, yet most Juneau residents know the road is the most sensible solution to Juneau's access problems. Extending roadways to shorten expensive ferry routes is the only long-term viable solution for coastal transportation.

Palin has acted cautiously with regards to the road. But her common sense approach and preference for facts instead of emotions will determine her actions. When she cuts the ribbon on the Juneau road, she will be giving all Alaskans the gift of a beautiful highway that will serve as our gateway to the rest of Alaska and North America - forever.

Rick Urion

Former legislator, lobbyist and state employee


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