A pointless road

Letters to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, November 03, 2004

In response to recent letters I offer this. I have commuted back and forth between Fairbanks and Anchorage and Juneau for 30 years. I agree with Ms. Box (Empire, Oct. 14) in her quick but sage assessment of the cost to drive north versus flying. I can also add that a road out of Juneau is cost-effective neither on an individual basis nor as public policy.

The dubious $200-some million "estimated" for the road to create a "travel option," plus substantial annual maintenance costs in perpetuity, is a phenomenal investment with little or no clear public objective. The road, as proposed, will destroy the east side of Lynn Canal both as a construction project and more importantly as access to those who would exploit - recklessly plink, vandalize and litter the area. The road will be closed between Juneau and Skagway or be extremely dangerous for many days during winter due to ice, avalanche, landslides and wind. I also know that even if a road were built, the White and Haines passes are frequently undriveable, or closed altogether, during winter months.

Road access to Juneau will not enhance the quality of life in Juneau, Skagway or Haines and Juneau infrastructure is nowhere near prepared for the increased traffic of independent vehicular tourism.

I too dislike the waiting and expense associated with ferry travel, but I dislike even more the possibility of wasting millions of dollars of your and my money for a pointless project that is being madly promoted by Juneau business interests.

Juneau is merely one of hundreds of roadless communities in Alaska. And the roadless nature of so many communities is what helps retain that character of "smallness" that Bob Weeden once so eloquently asserted of Alaska. A road to Skagway will make no difference to those who want the economic gain of moving the capital north.

Lastly, the people of Juneau, who are predominantly public employees, as well as the community of Skagway have already spoken - no road. What part of that is so difficult to understand? Perhaps for those who so desperately need access to the continental road system should contemplate a move?

Scott Williams


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