Anti-road arguments appear a bit strange

Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I couldn't help but giggle to myself after reading Steve Vick's column in Friday's Juneau Empire.

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The anti-road people seem to be making some rather strange arguments lately. All of a sudden they are conservative with the state's finances. At least they are when you mention anything that makes sense, such as a gold mine to support Southeast economies and a road that would lower traveling costs in and out of Juneau.

According to them, we're supposed to rely on the tourism industry more and more. The only problem with that line of thinking is there are only so many made-in-China trinkets one can sell before the market is saturated. This city needs more seasonal, $8 per hour, nonbenefit-paying tourism jobs like a proverbial hole in the head.

The fact of the matter is it will take less man hours per year for the Alaska Department of Transportation to maintain a road than it takes to run a ferry up and down Lynn Canal 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

Now we're hearing the terms "geological hazard," "mega-boulders" as well as how impossible and "dangerous" it will be to build the road, as if building it requires superhuman abilities. The folks that built the Alaska Railroad would surely disagree; they seemed to do fine without biased pseudo studies telling them how impossible it was.

The anti-road argument might be a little more convincing if there weren't already well-traveled roads up and down California and Colorado that deal with these same hazards on a daily basis. Surely, it can be done in Alaska.

Finally, they throw in the "another-ferry" argument. The Fairweather's schedule should have a permanent asterisk by it because it's only operational in fair weather. Ferries seem to work fine for short commutes everywhere else in the world such as Staten Island and the Puget Sound, but here they're an impossible dream?

I guess the question everyone in Juneau needs to ask themselves is: Do I trust a ferry to take me 60 miles or is it more reasonable to expect a ferry to take me five miles? I trust DOT about as far as I can throw the Malaspina, so it would be wise to take the lion's share of the commute out of its hands.

Earl Lear


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