Road promises sound like they come from vacuum salesmen

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2007

Recent letters and comments in articles in the Empire have assumed a dismissive tone toward those who oppose the proposed road to another ferry terminal.

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Critics who dare question this transportation vision are described by road advocate Brad Fluetsch as "greenies" who "just want Southeast to die" and who "are intentionally trying to screw it all up" (Juneau Empire, Nov. 11, "Juneau road's advocates, critics remain intransigent after state revises costs"); Dick Knapp accuses critics of not knowing the so-called facts, which all who are pro-road can so clearly see (Juneau Empire, Nov. 4 "Road will provide safe, convenient access").

Risking such mischaracterization from Fluetsch or Knapp, I offer my view that the Juneau Access Road (JAR), is a misnomer. It would be more accurate to call it the Mine Access Road (MAR), or the Ferry Access Road (FAR) as it would be a permanent road accessing a temporary mine while crossing incomparable fragile habitats before traversing a geologically unstable steep glacial fjord to a new ferry terminal 75 miles past the ferry terminal we now have conveniently located just 15 miles from downtown.

Fluetsch promises the road "will pay for itself." Knapp promises the road will "improve our quality of life in ways never imagined." These are promises that sound like the breathless sales pitches of door-to-door vacuum-cleaner salesmen. I just don't buy them.

Even if it only cost $1 to build, this proposed road would reasonably sound like a questionable endeavor to many intelligent folks, excluding the blindly pro-development few who would build anything anywhere without wisdom or foresight so long as somebody else pays for it; or those few who stand to profit directly from such gross misallocation of public funds.

Before work on this road proceeds, I sincerely hope to hear better arguments from those charged with such weighty decisions than the hopeful pronouncements and name-calling offered up as facts and good reasons to build this invasive, destructive, dangerous, expensive, permanent road past a mine to a parking lot on the Katzehin river delta 20 miles south of Skagway.

To paraphrase Knapp's letter, facts are supported by evidence and experience. Opinions do not require evidence. While I respectfully consider the opinions of those who support road access to a mine and a remote ferry terminal, based on the facts and my own extensive road-driving experience, I cannot agree with them.

Clay Good


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