Consider the Unknowns

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2010

What do we know about Proposition 2? Why do we want it? How much will it cost? Who will pay for it? What will it do to the wetlands?

Why, when the state builds highways across the state, are we not getting state funding? Maybe legislators are asking themselves questions like these: Would this bridge be serving a population, living mostly on the Juneau side, that has remained stable at about 30,000 during the past few decades? Where is the growth coming from that warrants housing expansion? Don't people usually drive more than 22 miles to reach a world-class ski area? Has the Douglas Bridge ever been closed, in its history? If response to fire in North Douglas is an issue, could that problem be solved another way, like building a substation, similar to the Lynn Canal Substation, which serves homes out the road? Is the North Douglas road any more dangerous than Thane Road or Glacier Highway? If so maybe we should look at highway improvements.

If our state government deems funding a second crossing an extravagant use of public money, then shouldn't we be taking a good look at our pocketbooks before we take on a project of this magnitude, with no state or federal help? Is there another alternative that would give us state or federal funds? After all, we're a community of 31,262, not a huge metropolis! Sales taxes can only be stretched so far. Progressive communities across our nation are recognizing the inequity and hardship imposed on families by taxing food and utilities (including heating oil), which are necessities regardless of income.

I have seen numbers for this bridge ranging from $71 million to $135 million. What is our plan for overruns, which is highly probable if we go with the lowest estimate? Would we impose a "user fee" (toll), as we do for boat launch facilities?

If we aren't meeting deadlines applying for government money, why the rush to push this through? Environmental reviews haven't yet been done, so why not wait to see those results before we risk turning the wetlands into drylands? Are we subsidizing a causeway, then infrastructure to develop a drier neighborhood? If you're avoiding rainfall, Southeast Alaska probably isn't the place to settle. The City and Borough of Juneau needs to provide us with more answers before asking for this much money. I say show me the facts before you ask me to buy.

Jacqueline Polasky


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