Let's see the numbers

Posted: Friday, September 29, 2000

I've lived in Juneau for four years, which may not qualify me for an opinion on the road issue. But I did grow up in a rural, isolated town where the Road Agent was the most powerful person in town. He built or improved a road when and where he wanted. But even our infamous road warrior was called upon to justify his public works in economic terms.

And I don't understand the economics of a road out of Juneau. The main argument: given that the state of Alaska will receive $15 billion in federal handouts in the coming years for transportation projects, Juneau should grab a chunk and build a road. Hardly a picture of self-reliance and independence.

I would take a guilty pleasure in driving my family up the road for some better access to Berner's Bay cohos and fresh scenery in Skagway, Whitehorse and beyond. But beyond alleviating Juneau's collective claustrophobia, what else does a road give us?

Some say it would keep the capital from moving. But how many of those legislators bent on moving the capital to Anchorage, will take a very long drive down a road whose final leg is likely to be closed for substantial portions of the winter?

Will increased revenue from RVs justify the cost of building a road? Or cost savings to a mine? I would love to see some numbers.

Thomas Fletcher


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