I recently took a round trip from Juneau to Tenakee Springs on the Alaska Marine Highway's La Conte. During the voyage I watched the glory of Southeast Alaska glide by while I sampled the galley's corned beef hash, read the first chapter of William Oliver's "A History of Sea Power" and chatted with new friends on the aft deck before a quick nap under the solarium's heat lamps. What a great way to travel; no need to sit behind the wheel of a car, no cramped airline seats. I'm a huge fan of the Alaska Marine Highway System.
So I was happy to see Gov. Sean Parnell's recent approval of $120 million allotted for a new Alaska Class Ferry in the state's 2011 budget.
This money will go to building a new, more efficient and lower-polluting ferry to serve Southeast Alaska. As funding continues, Alaska class ferries will replace the much older ferries that currently dominate AHMS' fleet. This will reduce the operating costs of the system and improve traveler experience.
Parnell took a step toward a healthy future for AMHS, and deserves our thanks. I encourage the state to continue to fund and build new ferries, as they are a part of the high quality of life we enjoy in Southeast Alaska. I look forward to many more happy memories of long foamy wakes trailing down Lynn Canal, Chatham Strait, and Wrangell Narrows.