Road would hurt Juneau's neighbors

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, November 06, 2003

Some of the recent letters regarding a road to Juneau seem to be getting hung up on points that are not really important. Instead of arguing about whether the problem here is newcomers who want to make Juneau like any other town in the Lower 48 or old-timers who are resistant to change, we need to step back and think about what is really good for all the people in Southeast, new arrivals and lifelong residents alike.

Road proponents appear to believe that a road here would be a magic fix for Juneau's economy. But in Southeast Alaska road access doesn't necessarily mean economic salvation. Consider Haines, a town with road access, a small population and a stagnant economy. Additionally, I, for one, have not seen any economic studies showing that trucking goods more than 1,500 roundabout miles from Seattle is cheaper than shipping them up directly by barge.

More important, though, a road to Juneau would certainly come at the expense of all the other towns in the northern part of the region. Skagway would likely lose its incredibly valuable status as the cruise ship terminus and Haines, too, would lose business from a decrease in road traffic. Emphasis on a road in Juneau over increased spending and improvements for the Alaska Marine Highway System wouldn't help Petersburg, Pelican, Tenakee or Sitka either. All these towns would still need ferry service, with or without a $300 million road between Juneau and Skagway.

The proposed road affects far more people than the 30,000 or so that live in Juneau. Let's take everyone into consideration before we commit to such an expensive project.

Gene Harrison


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