Road is a waste

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Juneau-to-Skagway road doesn't make economic sense for Haines. Mr. Knapp (My Turn: "Exaggerations abound about effects of a road," Nov.1) argued that the road would allow the state ferry system to save money by discontinuing service between Juneau and Skagway. The current Juneau-Haines-Skagway ferry run is one of the few profitable routes of the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS). If the road to Skagway is built, Juneau will become the northern terminus for car ferry traffic going to and from Whitehorse, Anchorage and Fairbanks. There will be very little demand for whatever ferry link is provided between the new road and Haines, so service will be infrequent and expensive. The AMHS will lose a revenue source that subsidizes the unprofitable routes throughout Southeast Alaska service, and Haines will lose the visitor industry that serves the current ferry traffic.

Speaking of industry, one of the few growth opportunities in Lynn Canal has been providing excursions to cruise ship passengers that dock in Skagway and Haines. The reason all those cruise ships come up Lynn Canal (and the rest of Southeast Alaska) is the spectacular unspoiled scenery. The Juneau-Skagway road would be a 75-mile long scar across that scenery. Let's not kill the goose that is laying golden eggs.

Instead of throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into blasting a road into the steep slopes of Lynn Canal, we should use less money to build more fast ferries and provide more efficient and convenient service throughout Southeast Alaska.

Richard Chapell

Haines



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