Opponents were against road when it went 'somewhere'

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Those against the road use the following arguments: It is a "road to nowhere"; recreation vehicles will flood Juneau; the road will be closed for parts of the year due to weather conditions; and, environmentalists say, Berners Bay is more valuable as a tourist destination without roads.

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Those against the "road to nowhere" were opposed to the road when it was to go to Skagway (which is somewhere). Many letters against the road come from residents of cities in Southeast Alaska with roads leading to "somewhere." You want to see roads to nowhere, come to Juneau.

Do those who warn against RVs coming to Juneau feel that something is wrong with RVs? Haines and Skagway handle RVs every day and even have RV parks. If RVs came to Juneau, we might see construction of a nice RV park with a shuttle service to downtown Juneau for those who want to tour Juneau like those that serve the crews off the tour ships. RVs don't have to come downtown. Where critics see problems, I see job opportunities.

Will those who worry about road closures tell me how many days last year the "marine highway" to Haines or Skagway was closed due to no ferry scheduled or breakdowns? I count a minimum of 74 days just from October through April - close to 100 for the year. I would wager that any road to Haines or Skagway would be closed fewer days than the marine highway.

The tourism industry was (and is) vilified for disturbing remote places, pollution, overcrowding and noise. Now it is being used as a tool to prevent development of any kind. You can't have it both ways. Access to Berners Bay is provided at a price to those that can afford it and enriches only a few. A road would provide access to all at a very reasonable price, provide convenience when traveling, as well as save residents of northern Southeast Alaska a lot of money when leaving or coming to Juneau.

The current ferry system cannot survive. The fast ferries are wonderful, but they are not holding up to the weather and constant use. The Malaspina, Taku and Matanuska (which I worked on 41 years ago) are on their last legs, with no replacements in sight. Work rules, rising fuel prices and other factors will mean fewer scheduled trips and more subsidies, resulting in more marine highway closures.

Tim Whiting


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