Road isn't federal priority

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2005

In Michael Heiman's column of Sept. 11 regarding the proposed road towards Skagway, he mentioned a controversial road from the 18th century in which a precedent was established for the federal government to build an access road into a community against its citizens' wishes. This is an interesting angle for a road proponent to consider, but I don't see the relevance of this information, considering that the federal government hasn't been a proponent of our road extension, nor would it be an access road since ferries would still need to be used. Since he asked for facts, not beliefs, from those opposed to the project, I have a couple to offer.

First, regarding his characterization of those opposed as a "vocal minority," the last time a vote was taken the "nays" were the majority. Second, although the federal government has little to no interest in the road, we're asking them to fund 90 percent of it. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 34 percent of America's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 27 percent of America's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. They estimate that an average of $59 billion annually will need to be spent over the next 10 years to improve these conditions. Alaskans already receive more federal dollars per capita than any other state. Isn't it a bit selfish to ask for even more from Washington to build a new road, considering the maintenance and repair needs of so many already in existence?

Bret Schmiege


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