A road opens up the world

Posted: Monday, September 25, 2000

On election day, in the privacy of the polling booth, voters will express their preference for "enhanced ferry service" or a road as the best long-term improvement for access to Juneau.

The most recent Juneau tourism community opinion survey conducted by the McDowell Group for the CBJ shows that 62 percent of Juneau households favor an increase in independent visitors to town. These visitors typically stay longer and spend more money than cruise passengers. And, they spend it in year-round businesses like hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, gas stations, grocery and convenience stores.

Clearly, a road would bring more independent travelers, especially other Alaskans, to the Capital City. Anyone serious about diversifying our dependence on cruise ship tourism should support the road. The benefits are obvious.

All across America, long-weekend trips now comprise more than half of all trips taken and the extended vacation (five nights or more) is declining. "Time starvation" is leading to shorter trips, closer to home. This travel trend is virtually unknown in Juneau except to owners of large boats or private planes. It's a fact. Recreational travel for Juneau residents is costly and inconvenient. And, it isn't getting any cheaper.

Ferry fares are going up 20 percent but Juneau's per capita income is declining. By voting for a road and urging completion of the Juneau Access Study, we create hope for our residents, most of whom have cars, who desire and deserve the freedom to travel. A world of weekend getaways and varied recreational opportunities would open up with a road.

Paulette Simpson

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