Assembly has duty to support road

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, June 07, 2005

On May 23, I supported Assembly member Wanamaker's resolution in support of the road to Skagway. My reason was simple. I believe it is the responsibility of the governing body of Alaska's capital city (the Juneau Assembly) to visibly demonstrate its commitment to improving access to the capital.

To most Alaskans, "improving access" to the capital means making travel in and out of Juneau less expensive and more convenient. There can be no arguing that if and when the road is built, access to Juneau will be cheaper both for Juneau residents and our neighbors up north who want to visit us.

Currently, there are two ways to get to Juneau. We can fly or we can use the ferry. We are constantly reminded that both options are expensive. The Juneau Assembly can't reduce the cost of air or ferry travel nor can we do anything to make the schedules more flexible or convenient.

But the Assembly can act in an official capacity to pass a resolution saying that we support the one viable option out there that actually can improve access to the capital. A resolution sends the message to fellow Alaskans that we understand that access is the burning issue and we want to go on record acknowledging it and doing something about it.

For nearly a quarter century, Juneau's Alaska Committee has taken a leadership role on capital-move issues. We depend on the Alaska Committee to conduct the research, organize our outreach efforts and when necessary, run the campaigns to defeat capital move initiatives.

Before the Assembly voted on the road resolution, we heard from the Alaska Committee that their volunteer members unanimously endorsed this road resolution and urged us to do likewise.

Unless the Assembly is willing to exercise the leadership necessary to pass a strong resolution in favor of road access, how can we ask the Alaska Committee to continue their work on our behalf around the state? They have done their job and done it splendidly. Now it's the Assembly's turn to step up and do its job.

The road resolution was tabled by five of my fellow Assembly members. When and if it comes up again, I will again vote in favor of improving access to the capital. Hopefully, my colleagues will join me in validating the dedication and good work of the Alaska Committee and taking a stand for better access.

Assembly member David Stone


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