Juneau access road would bring benefits

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2007

As the permitting for the road gets closer and support for a road grows, there has been a sense of urgency in articles by those opposed to it. A Haines resident says he is worried about the estimated 33 days the Department of Transportation says the road may be closed due to weather conditions, yet fails to mention that the Marine Highway is closed (does not run to Haines) more than 33 days every year (some years up to 100 days).

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Another continues to use the scare tactic about a bus full of kids being swept off the road without mentioning the possibility of a ferry sinking or planes crashing. Both fail to mention that the majority of travel on the road will take place during summer and fall without snow conditions. They also fail to mention that there was a similar determined faction against the creation of the ferry system due to what was called the "impossibility of running ferries during the severe winter weather conditions throughout Southeast Alaska and especially Lynn Canal."

Another is worried that the mine will benefit because of the road. A little history here for those that don't know, the road from Carcross to Skagway was built to provide access to a sea port for the mines in the Yukon Territory. For years, trucks from Yukon carried ore to the dock in Skagway where carriers took it south to be processed. The Canadian mines benefited, the town of Skagway benefited and those wishing to drive south from Juneau benefited. In other words, that steep, difficult-to-build, avalanche-prone road out of Skagway improved the quality of life for Yukon and Southeast Alaska residents and continues to do so even though the mining operations have ceased.

The road from Juneau will benefit the Kensington Mine. It will benefit workers in Haines who will have access to good jobs. It will benefit workers from Juneau who will have access to mine jobs without running crew boats across Berners Bay, where they might disturb a herring, a sea lion or a whale. Juneau residents will have more affordable vacation opportunities, and there will be more traffic to Haines and Skagway instead of decreasing ridership and increasing cost of ferry traffic.

Considering the dire predictions for the future of small towns in Southeast, I would not turn down any opportunity to improve transportation opportunities to my community.

Tim Whiting


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