Build the tunnel, Juneau to Skagway

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, October 14, 2005

I really can't help it, but I need to jump into this hard link/road access out of Juneau debate. I will be quite up front about what my position is. I firmly believe we should have built a road link back in 1970 when they first punched the road through to Echo Cove, and I have continued to support any viable option that allows affordable access to and from our fair city.

Given the economics and the cost of fuel steadily reaching ballistic figures, the cost of operating the marine highway will go the way of the gooney bird soon. No one will be able to afford the new tariffs facing us. Given Iraq, now Katrina and Rita, think about it. Any one of those blue canoes consume much more fuel in one hour than the average Juneau household uses in a year. The current figures of cost are not even close to what will be imposed on us in the very near future.

I believe the objections of the access route from our northern neighbors is a very self-centered one based on the unfounded fear that they will meet economic disaster because Juneau will suck the air out of its current tourist dollar. That's wrong. I believe the actual number of independent travelers will increase because of the easier access to Juneau. In addition, during winter the traditional board-the-windows-up-and-get-out-of-town exodus will not be to their advantage. With the road access, local traffic, both from Canada and Juneau, will increase significantly, requiring local services almost year round in both Skagway and Haines. I see the road as a win-win situation for all communities involved.

Now for option Z-12. Why not take a page from the British and French? Dig an Alaskan version of the Chunnel from Berners Bay straight through the mountain to downtown Skagway. Even the most ardent preservationist couldn't object. Unless there is some unknown rock worm that might become endangered?

Mark Burgoyne


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