Skagway voters reject road to capital

More than 61 percent chose improved ferry service in advisory vote

Posted: Thursday, October 07, 2004

SKAGWAY - Skagway voters have affirmed their local government's opposition to a road leading to Juneau, Alaska's capital, although absentee ballots remain to be counted.

In an advisory vote Tuesday, voters were asked to choose between a road or improved ferry service. The Alaska Marine Highway operates ferries between Juneau, Skagway and nearby Haines.

More than 61 percent of voters chose improved ferry service. The vote was 251-159 in favor of the boats.

Another 160 absentee votes will be tallied late this afternoon, according to the clerk's office.

The Skagway City Council in the past has gone on record opposing a road up the east side of Lynn Canal connecting Skagway and Juneau.

Gov. Frank Murkowski included a proposed 65-mile road north out of Juneau, now accessible only by water or air, this year as part of his Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan.

Advisory votes in Juneau have been evenly split.

Critics in Skagway and Haines say commerce will dry up in their communities if a highway replaces ferry traffic.

A road from Skagway leads to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory and the Alaska Highway. Haines has a road connection to the Alaska Highway at Haines Junction.

A road also is opposed by environmental groups, who say building on the steep slopes Lynn Canal's east side would be dangerous and damaging to wilderness areas.

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