Create a marine route to benefit all

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2007

The Alaska Marine Highway System is being reduced to being transportation for tourists. The marine highway was originally designed to be a highway for residents to navigate their state.

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Many towns in Southeast Alaska depend on the ferries year round due to not being accessible by land. What about options for other Alaskans? Mainland residents mainly use the ferry to take them and their vehicle from Whittier to Bellingham. Current routes and schedules have the ferry system serving fewer than 10 percent of Alaska residents, although it is funded in part by all Alaska residents.

My question is, why isn't there a ferry that runs direct between Whittier and Bellingham? The majority of mainland Alaskans take the trip from Whittier to Bellingham by way of Juneau. Why do we have to change ships in Juneau and spend one to three nights in Juneau waiting for another ship to take us to Bellingham?

There is presently no ferry running from Whittier, Homer, Valdez, Kodiak or anywhere else that will get you across the Gulf of Alaska. The only option is to drive to Haines, utilize your passport and hope your record is clear enough that Canada guards will allow you to pass through their country, so that you can use our marine highway.

I understand it will be May before a ferry will again head south from Whittier, because the only ship that is capable of making that trip is in dry dock for the winter.

Create a route that will benefit all Alaskans. The Alaska Marine Highway System is infrastructure we do need, but tweaks are necessary to make it beneficial for all residents, not just those in the Southeast and the tourists in the summer.

George Johnson


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