Like Leighty said, second crossing a bad idea

Posted: Sunday, October 03, 2010

I commend Bill Leighty for his recent My Turn (see "Juneau should resist the temptation to sprawl to North Douglas" in Tuesday's Empire) opposing the second crossing. Juneau certainly doesn't need the inefficiency and overall waste of energy that will inevitably result from such a sprawl-encouraging project.

I also agree wholeheartedly with Wayne Regelin's points in his recent My Turn (see "Causeway causes many concerns" in the Sept. 17 Empire). There is no way this dam or bridge will cost the $70 to $90 million the 1 percent tax will raise in 10 years. Do we really want to raise property taxes for this, or use up our limited access to state dollars at the same time we're trying to build the Juneau Access Road, the State Library-Archives-Museum building, the new Department of Labor building, and stop the capital creep of higher-paying state jobs? Tying up the 1 percent for 10 years pushes back any other potential use for that money until 2024, including hospital improvements or a second hockey rink. All this for a project that benefits a limited group of land owners, and undermines our city's unique character.

But ultimately, why the second crossing is a bad idea is that it will finally and irreversibly destroy downtown's remaining role as the center of our community. The potentially thousands of new residents will cross to the airport and the malls without ever casting a glimpse of our community's historic center. Mendenhall Valley residents will be able to ski and golf without conscious awareness we live in an actual city. The hemorrhage of non-tourist retail will be complete, leaving downtown's 7,000 residents in a very precarious place.

For better or worse, current projections don't show great amounts of population growth in coming years. Sprawling subdivisions on the outskirts will only hurt the real estate market and every home's resale value in every other part of town. Expected growth can be easily accommodated by infill development and increased density, the sort of development that encourages creative transportation solutions and preserves our community's unique role.

The second crossing is a terrible idea. We don't need it, and it will do far more harm than good to Juneau as a whole. Please vote no on 2.

Ken Alper


Downtown Juneau resident

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