For several years now I have listened and read the discussions of all who cared to express their thoughts on both sides of the road issue. This has been for the most part a lively discussion and great entertainment regardless of what side of the argument you may be on. The pulling and twisting of the truth at times borders on fiction, but still like a good novel provides a chuckle and a good read. It seems lots of people have interesting facts and figures for both sides - but what are the real/correct numbers?
What astounds me are some members of this community who think we have developed enough, that we do not need any more tourists and that a road will just lead to trouble of some sort or another. Are these the same individuals who would object to development from other sources? This state and this community need jobs, need development and need diversification. Our state and local budgets will be short hundreds of millions of dollars. Are those that are opposed to further development, including more tourists, also willing to start paying a state income tax? Are you willing to give up your dividend? What magic would you like your servants (the government) to come up with that will fix the shortfalls?
I believe the governor's office and Legislature are looking for your suggestions of where and what to cut - if you have specifics please submit them. However, I personally do not believe there is enough good choices left that will result in a balanced budget. Hence, we need to grow revenue. We could create new and expand existing taxes - however, I would prefer not to except as a last resort. To be honest, I like to spend my own money. I like the 36-inch TV I own. I like the computer I wrote this on. Hence, the last/best alternative to me seems to be further development.
Hopefully that development can be accomplished in a wise manner, such as having a large RV park outside of town and free shuttle bus into town so I do not have to deal with 40-foot motor homes in downtown Juneau. Another idea would be to have the highway a toll road to offset some of the cost of maintenance.
However, to make statements like a road is more expensive then the ferry? Come now, let's be honest and include all the numbers and compare apples to apples. How much does the Alaska Marine Highway system cost the general treasury ever year? How much of the new road would be built with federal tax dollars? And, as a side benefit, I can drive the road much cheaper then I can ride the ferry - and can do so at a time and schedule of my choosing. There is a restaurant in Skagway that has the absolute best halibut burger I have ever had - my mouth waters thinking of it - and I could drive there for a Saturday lunch. Regardless of the argument and logic, I guess I just plain and simple want a road! Maybe I want the road so I can get out of town and take a break from this discussion.
Duane P. Gates
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