(Editor's note: This letter is in response to a letter by Ken Russo, "If it's about access, move the Capitol," on May 17.)
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It only takes 30 days to become an Alaska resident. I have fulfilled that residency requirement about 874 times. I have been an official resident of Ketchikan and Skagway, and I have spent time in Juneau and Sitka long enough to have claimed residency of those communities. I have sons, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins (and their children) and grandchildren who are Southeast Alaska residents. How do you stack up to that residency list, Mr. Russo?
While Capitol access is one of the reasons to justify an all-land route to Juneau (an achievable possibility), it certainly isn't the most compelling reason. With the change to Alaska Standard Time and the advent of satellites, Internet, faxes, cell phones, etc., Alaskans already probably have better access to our state or federal government than they would have had standing on the government doorstep.
Physical access to Southeast Alaska is another thing. I need physical access to hug a child, grandchild or friend in need, or get to a doctor or hospital. Economical physical access is needed to participate in a horse show or baseball tournament in the Yukon or Fairbanks; downhill ski in Juneau; snowmobile, cross-country ski or build snow caves along the South Klondike Highway; attend a concert or upper-level education class in Juneau; transport food and supplies to a community; transport fish, beer and raw material to market; or transport men and material to a job. The ferry system is not flexible, convenient or inexpensive for any of these things.
As national defense is presently a big issue, it should be obvious that diversity in ways to get from point A to B is necessary. The issue is not Juneau access, but Southeast Alaska access. Roads should be built wherever possible, with short shuttle ferries to connect the roads and communities. As the state will not be out of the Marine Highway business, a mainline ferry to Bellingham with appropriate intermediate stops would probably stay in place.
In short, Gov. Murkowski's Southeast Alaska transportation plan should be implemented as soon as possible, and a road between Juneau, Skagway and Haines is an important part of that. If there is any selfishness, it is not in Gov. Murkowski's administration, but on the part of Russo and other carpetbaggers.
Mavis Irene Henricksen
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