Build the road; it's the right thing to do

Posted: Sunday, October 29, 2006

In September, my wife and I took the ferry from our home in Juneau to Haines and returned. Including the pickup and 23-foot camper, the cost of the ferry trip was $398. From the end of the Juneau road system to Haines is 45 miles. The fuel for the next 2,100 miles was $500.

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The trip to Haines or the interior is one I would like to make more than once a year. As a retiree on a fixed income, the cost of the ferry trip limits my ability to do that. I would like to see the road extended and a new ferry terminal built to reduce the cost.

I also have enough experience with road and ferry construction and maintenance projects to understand that roads are by far the cheaper alternative when it comes to expenditure of state and federal funds per mile of travel. I think it is time that the people of Haines, Juneau and Skagway get solidly behind the road project. Most of the rest of the state supports the road for a good reason: They would like to see us, to any extent possible, off the ferry welfare system.

I would like to ask Juneau residents to support this issue for another reason. I don't have kids in school, don't ski, don't use the city sewer system, don't have any intention of ice skating, don't ride a bus and have very little use for the harbor facilities. My tax dollars support all of them for those who either need them or want them. I guess I don't understand why you have to need the road to support it. I need the road and so do a lot of other people.

The fact is, it's very expensive by any standard to live in Juneau. I've been talking to a few retired friends lately, and they have expressed the same concerns as I about being forced out of town due to the cost of living. I would like to stay, and the old saying, "If you don't like it, leave," does not cut it. Change is a way of life, and fuel to run our ferries has seen some big increases in cost and quantity required per mile with the fast ferry. Let's leave some of our taxes and that black stuff for better use. The right thing to do is build the road.

Al Risley


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