An abominable idea made worse

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, September 23, 2005

I'm not an engineer, nor am I a "transportation expert," but like many people looking at this letter right now, I can, in fact, read. Unfortunately, I don't have time to read through the 14 inches of paper that representthe Department of Transportation and Public Facilities' Juneau Access Improvements Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement. I'm glad though, that there are folks out there that are willing and able to plow through towering documents, distill out the important information, and work to ensure that the information is taken into account when considering matters of critical importance to our community.

For example, if it hadn't been for the sleuthing of the Alaska Transportation Priorities Project, I wouldn't know that DOT/PF's new preferred alternative, a road to the Katzehin River with ferry shuttles to Haines and Skagway, will mean it will actually take me longer to get to Haines or Skagway than jumping on the Fairweather here in Juneau. I also wouldn't know that taking a ferry north from Juneau won't even be an option. All ferry runs northbound from Juneau will be slated to end, and travelers will be forced to travel an avalanche prone road. (Another fun statistic I learned: The avalanche danger along the road to the Katzehin will be so high that DOT predicts the route will be closed completely for over a month each year.)

Perhaps the efforts of advocacy groups wouldn't be so critical if we could trust DOT/PF to be forthright in informing the public, but Regional Director Mal Menzies' slanderous attack on Emily Ferry and the ATPP was no more than proof of the state's overwhelming bias in favor of paving the Lynn Canal. After all, all Ms. Ferry did was recite figures that were crunched by the department's own engineers.

The truth of the matter is, the road, or rather, the "longer drive to a new ferry terminal," is a bad idea getting worse. It will take longer to travel, cost the state more to operate, and be a huge inconvenience for many travelers. You can try to shoot the messenger, but it's not going to make an abominable idea any better.

Josh Robins


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