Comparing ferries to the road

Posted: Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Environmental Protection Agency's overview of the road project out of Juneau made statements about possible travel time using the road/shuttle that "the worst case scenario would result in 1 1/2 to 2 1/2-hour delays" and would result in "increased travel time relative to the fast ferry alternative."

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Is this compared to "the worst case scenario" if the fast ferry (singular) quit running? This compares only the fast ferry, and the fast ferry doesn't run very often to Haines and Skagway, three days a week to Haines and four to Skagway during July, August and half of September this year - if it gets out of dry dock by July 1. The majority of the runs are made by the old mainline ferries that take hours longer.

Using the road/shuttle will be just like the Washington state ferries. You will time your drives to the Katzehin terminal to coincide with the ferry schedule. If it takes me two hours to drive the highway to Haines, I will leave a half-hour early to allow for any delay, and I will have a half-hour wait for the ferry - not the two hours ahead of schedule you are required at the Juneau terminal. In other words, I will be there loading for Haines or Skagway, at about the same time I would load in Juneau; I will just be 90 miles closer.

The big difference will be convenience. I made reservations to travel to Whitehorse on July 5. As no ferry goes to Skagway on that day, I will take the LeConte to Haines, leaving at 7 a.m. (checking in two hours prior), arriving at 11:30 a.m., then driving to Whitehorse, the long way. Total travel time is 11 hours: 6 1/2 hours to Haines, another 4 1/2 hours to Whitehorse. Compare that to a 2-hour drive to the shuttle, half-hour wait, half-hour shuttle to Skagway, 2 1/2-hour drive to Whitehorse: a total of 5 1/2 hours. I would have at least a twice-a-day option to do this, probably morning and afternoon, not the 1 a.m. or 4 a.m. choice you get in Juneau at times.

I did have options to the LeConte to Haines on July 5. I could have taken the ferry that arrived in Skagway at 1:30 a.m. on July 6 and then drive to Whitehorse arriving at 4 a.m. I believe that those opposed to the road do not ride the ferry very often.

Tim Whiting


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