Improved ferry system is what's needed now

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2003

It's bad enough that the Murkowski administration is pushing the Juneau Access road project forward despite massive state funding shortfalls, the majority vote against it in Juneau, and resolutions of protest from the Haines and Skagway local governments.

Now, the Alaska Department of Transportation plans to waste even more money on the project by including a west side alternative in its study (Juneau Empire, "Road Study," June 4). Last time DOT excluded this route from the study because it saved neither time nor money.

If the governor's office and state Legislature are really serious about improving transportation in the Upper Lynn Canal, they should focus on improving the Alaska Marine Highway System now rather than diverting funds to study roads that will never be built.

Due to meddling by the Legislature, more than $60 million in federal funding for Southeast fast ferries are being held in limbo until the state decides whether to spend it on ferries or dole it out to pet projects elsewhere.

The Upper Lynn Canal routes between Juneau, Haines and Skagway are the most popular and potentially money-making in the ferry system. By contrast, an avalanche-prone road up the Lynn Canal would be nearly impossible to keep open in the winter months, and at best, a harrowing driving experience.

Juneau, Haines and Skagway need improved access now, and the best way for all of us is not a road that we can't afford to maintain, but an improved ferry system.

John Warder


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