Apparently Mr. Adkins of Sparks, Nevada, and many other readers are bent on linking the ferry vs. road into a single issue. They are two distinctly unique issues that need to be addressed in isolation. It would appear from the letters you decide to publish that the two are linked and that a majority of the population is not now in favor of a road. I would like to address the road issue.
According to your own survey dated Dec. 8, 2002, the majority of the respondents to your survey agreed with the governor, supporting a road out of Juneau. I doubt the public sentiment in Juneau has changed that much over the past year. Neither your paper nor I have the slightest idea who responded to your survey last year or where they actually live. Let's for the sake of your survey say that the odds are that the majority of the respondents were residents of Juneau. We'll call this a fact. From this fact, we can than conclude that the majority of Juneau residents would like to see a road built from Juneau connecting to a road leading to wherever they wish to drive - Anchorage, Fairbanks, Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, Orlando, New Your City or the East Coast of Mexico. Although I did not vote in the survey, my vote would have been "yes."
Now, back the our conclusion above - that the majority of those who participated in your poll were Juneau (not Haines, Skagway or Sparks, Nevada) residents. I fail to appreciate how the opinions of people who do not live in Juneau become a factor in a poll that says "Juneau" - not "Juneau including Haines and Skagway" (or Sparks, Nevada for that matter). Truly, the issue is about what Juneau residents want. If your poll is representative of the general population of Juneau, at least 65 percent of the residents want the ability to get in their vehicle and drive - out of town - to wherever they want to drive. If that's not a mandate I'm not sure what is.
I, for one, am willing to accept the cost to include tolls, risks from land slides, avalanches, washouts, falling rocks and trees and risk to the environment - because I believe they are all minimal compared to the long-term benefits - those beyond my lifetime - of having a road link. I believe it is a bit silly to try to justify the cost of the road against all the risks and a swag at maintenance costs. (Remind me again how many active slide shoots there are between Juneau and Dupont, and how often do slides actually block that section of road.)
The primary question is: Would the road get used? There is no doubt in my mind the road would get used - by many, for many years.
I would also suspect that many of the 35 percent of the population of Juneau who did not agree with the governor would also use the road. I would, given the option, prefer to drive a road into or out of Juneau any day versus taking the ferry. I'll save the ferry for trips to those locations not served by the road network.
Oh yes, my link to Juneau? Even though I do not currently live there it has been my home for the last 26 years and will remain my home for many years to come. I look forward to returning home to live in a few years. I look forward to being able to drive my vehicle all the way there when I do.
Upavon, United Kingdom