At the bridge?

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2003

It does my heart good to read Mr. McIntosh's article of July 16. As a Ketchikan homeowner I can only guess where all the money to build the bridge will come from. I only hope I can sell my home before the Ketchikan Gateway Borough nicks me for more tax money.

As I have said before, the bridge is for lazy airport workers who think that a less than five-minute ferry ride to and from the airport is more than they should endure, when they can drive. They shouldn't care however; as their employers are paying for their fare and will probably pay the toll for them if and when the bridge is built.

Also the people who have owned land on Gravina, and have been paying the borough all these years for land that they can't sell, are surely pushing this project. Why someone would want to build in an airport flight path is beyond me.

It is ridiculous for a town that small (actual population is somewhere near 10,000) to build an expensive bridge across an international waterway, so that the folks flying in and out don't have to wait for a ferry. Sure it's inconvenient, but a new ferry costs but a million or two, and is good for 10 or 20 years. The first ferries were a couple of Great Lakes auto ferries.

They were ready to be scrapped, but were seaworthy enough to make it to Alaska. These were rebuilt and upgraded at great cost to the borough, but a bigger one was built and works well, with occasional tide problems that we have in Southeast. Occasionally the weather is so bad you can't get a ferry to the airport, but you shouldn't be flying that day anyway.

Once again, if you build something it will have to be maintained. I realize we are not talking about the Golden Gate Bridge, where it takes a year to sandblast and paint the whole bridge, but maintaining a couple of auto ferries is certainly much cheaper than maintaining a bridge.

The borough learned the hard way about maintenance when the airport side ramp failed because someone didn't grease the gear that raises and lowers the ramp.

Then again the Ketchikan Gateway Borough is good at wasting money. Case in point, the old pulp mill in Ward Cove, but that is another sad tale of woe for the city of Ketchikan.

Steve Smeltzer

Juneau



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