Proposed crossing raises clearance issues

Posted: Sunday, October 03, 2010

Proposition 2 would extend a portion of the sales tax until 2023. The funds would be used to construct an earthen causeway to North Douglas from Sunny Point. The design provides a small bridge over the Mendenhall Bar Channel. The design indicates a 16 foot clearance with a 22-foot tide.

It takes 12 feet of tide to cover the high point of the channel. Thus a boat drawing four feet of water needs at least 16 feet of tide to clear the bar. With just a 1-foot margin of error, that means such a boat would have a clearance of 21 feet under the bridge at precisely the right time of tide. Most local boats of about 30 feet or more, either commercial or pleasure, will probably not be able to fit under the proposed causeway. Thus most of the downtown gillnet fishing fleet would add about 20 miles transiting to weekly openings off Benjamin Island in the summer. I doubt the Coast Guard would ever permit a crossing so grossly violating minimum clearances (50 feet) of a navigable waterway.

Even without such a glaring design problem, Proposition 2 will dedicate 20 percent of all sales taxes collected until 2023, assuming the final cost does not exceed the current estimate.

I support the concept of a second crossing, but not one such as described in Proposition 2, and located such that it will have huge environmental impact concerns affecting the food chain for fishing, the migratory wetlands for hunting, and the hydrography of entire wetland area where tidal waters would meet an earthen dam from two opposing directions. I also believe the majority of costs should come from the highway tax funds we pay, not our sales tax.

Jack Cadigan

Juneau



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