I want to make a few comments regarding Alaska's nationally renowned proposed bridge projects. First of all, it's a sad day for Alaska when outside newspapers and Washington, D.C., watchdog groups can dictate what projects in Alaska are worthwhile. I cannot speak to the merits of the Knik Arm crossing, but I can say without question the money that our hardworking congressional delegation obtained for that project should only be used for that project.
The same holds true for the Gravina Island Bridge in Ketchikan. The earmarks in the transportation bill were only removed from these projects to quell the national media frenzy that had been going on. This does not change the fact that Alaska would not be getting the $450 million if it were not for these two projects. With the earmarks removed there will now be extreme temptation for legislators from around the state to raid these funds for their own districts. I hope and pray that these legislators can resist this temptation and respect the wishes of our delegation and remember why these funds were put in the transportation bill in the first place.
There is always temptation for the strong to take from the weak. In Ketchikan we don't have a large population so we are somewhat venerable in the legislature for funding priorities. We are the only major community in the state without the ability to drive to our airport. We have no accessible developable land for our community to expand to. We have had a major downturn in our economy since the demise of our timber industry in the 90's. This bridge is truly the bridge to our future. We have been trying to get this bridge for more than 30 years since our airport was built in 1973. This is our best and last chance to get it. Please encourage our governor and Legislature not to deprive us of this opportunity. We are all Alaskans, despite the vast distances that separate our communities. Do onto others as you would want done onto you.
Chris J. Herby