The so-called plan for a road out of Juneau has morphed into a mutant caricature without meaning, logic, or form. It adds some 70 miles onto the drive to a ferry terminal (including 51 new construction miles past Echo Cove). After slashing its way around Berners Bay and cutting-and-filling across the plunging cliffs and steep slopes of the Kakuhan Range fronting Lynn Canal, the planned road ends abruptly, somewhere near the mouth of the Katzehin River. There seems to be no logic for terminating the road here and building a new ferry terminal. We already have a ferry terminal, and it's only about 15 miles from downtown Juneau - instead of being about 85 miles.
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Perhaps ending the road about two-thirds of the way to Skagway has something to do with the logic of terrain. The Katzehin River looks to be a brawly, braided stream, heading as it does into the ice fields and glaciers of the Chilkoot Range. And at its mouth it sweeps around the cliffy base of Mount Villard, a nearly 5,000-foot sentinel peak that guards the entrance to Taiya Inlet, the last leg of the water route to Skagway.
Questions immediately leap to mind: Why build a road that only gets part of the way to your goal, when it still forces you to use a ferry and drive 85 miles for the privilege of using said ferry? And finally, why didn't the logic of terrain put the kibosh on this misbegotten project at the start? What a lot of trouble that would have saved.
William E. Brown
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