Tune would be different if proponents realized they had to pay for road

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rich Poor's lament ("The joys of a Lynn Canal Highway," Tuesday's Empire) is typical of the churlish "me" attitude so prevalent in our country.

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So long as road proponents believe other Americans are paying for this road up Lynn Canal, they whine for it. Should it fall to them, or to all Juneauites, or to all Alaskans to actually pay for it, their song would be different.

Here are the published numbers:

Estimated cost to build: $300 million.

Cost for every Juneauite: $10,000.

Cost for every Alaskan = $478.

In fact, the actual costs would be several times higher by almost any measure. One must wonder how folks in Bethel or Nome would feel about spending that kind of money to allow someone to attend the state fair or go for a change of scenery.

Sure, it is fun to drive through the Interior, but anyone can do that now. I do so myself every year or so. I don't find the cost excessive, and the ferry ride is part of the adventure. I surely don't ask for other taxpayers to pay for my ride. When I go to Anchorage on business, I fly, just as almost everyone in Haines now does. A choice between two hours on an airplane versus two days on the road should be a no-brainer.

Road proponents would have others pay for their travel convenience, which if trends in other parts of our country hold true here, they might use perhaps once or twice a year, if at all.

But it's the idea of the thing, you see. It sure would be "nice" to be able to build a road, hang the costs to everyone else, as well as the environmental damages and the inevitable costs to life and limb such a highway would entail (a highway that would still require a ferry link, regardless).

Poor sees a "dark cloud" hanging over his road in the form of fellow citizens who happen to believe in and be a part of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. We are that bogeyman so necessary for road proponents and development-at-any-cost advocates to have; they would have to invent us if we didn't exist.

Road proponents should appreciate what they are privileged to enjoy rather than push for a costly, dangerous road they think they need for fun.

Erik Lie-Nielsen

SEACC board member


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