Road will damage Berners Bay ecosystem

Posted: Sunday, November 26, 2006

Well, we just heard that bids submitted to build a "pioneer road" to Slate Cove are in the neighborhood of twice what state engineers estimated. It begs the question of what the eventual costs of building the entire road to a new ferry terminal at Katzehin would be.

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The outgoing administration's argument tells us that the pioneer road must be built now, or it will be more difficult to attract competitive bids to finish it. Actually, it tells us that there are already problems and that there is no doubt that the eventual costs of building the road will be a multiple of what has been presented thus far to the public.

The road to Katzehin won't get built without federal funds. Federal funds won't be available unless the necessary federal permits are obtained. That won't occur until the Army Corps of Engineers is allowed the necessary time to conduct an adequate review of the project.

One thing is for sure: If the "pioneer road" is built, the Berners Bay ecosystem will be dramatically altered. That change is irrevocable. Waiting for the requisite federal permits, and any associated conditions, to be obtained makes logical and fiscal sense. Pursuing a lame-duck governor's last gasp efforts to hastily build a narrow gravel road through pristine wilderness without getting the permits necessary to fully fund road construction doesn't cut it for me.

Andy McGregor


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