Building a new road, ferry terminal is irresponsible

Posted: Sunday, May 06, 2007

I had a good laugh listening to the pro-road/retired Department of Transportation engineer group mucking it up about getting out of Juneau at a moment's notice. Do they really believe that a state should spend nearly a billion dollars on a new 68-mile road, new ferry and terminal so that they can go car-camping to Whitehorse anytime they want to?

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Listening to the pro-road group lately, I hear a lot of, "We want a road out of here" comments. Where do they think they are going? Haines, Skagway or the green pastures of the Katzehin River Flats? Do pro-roaders feel isolated, cut off from the rest of the state or country and deprived from the freedom to go on long car rides whenever they want to? The reason there is no road out of here, is because Juneau is sandwiched between the ocean and a mountain range.

The secluded mountains are called the Kakuhan Range, which stretches nearly 100 miles between Skagway and Berners Bay. The 15 main glacier-covered mountains that make up this range are extremely rugged and steep. More than half of these mountains exceed 6,000 feet, all within one or two horizontal miles from summit to beach and the proposed road, which will create more than 61 active rock and avalanche chutes pouring down the rugged shoreline. Blasting and blowing up the base of these mountains would create numerous unstable rock slides that would be impossible to predict and prevent.

It makes absolutely no sense to replace a profitable ferry run with a multimillion dollar road project to a new ferry terminal at the Katzehin Flats. It's completely irresponsible for DOT to pursue this project and have the public drive an extra 68 miles to catch a ferry. The other reason this project should be stopped is that the majority of the Haines, Skagway and Juneau said "No" to a road and "Yes" to improved ferry service.

If DOT accomplishes its mission and continues to mislead the state and the public about the true cost of this project, the one thing I ask is: Let's move DOT headquarters to the Katzehin River Flats so department members can truly appreciate the long drive on the new road they have pushed so hard for.

Michael Miller


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