Favors road

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2002

I am not ashamed to be a supporter of the road into Juneau. I believe I speak for many of my neighbors and friends both in Juneau and other places in Southeast when I say it is time for this road project to be completed.

Completed properly as the people not only of Alaska, but of the rest of the world deserve. There is no doubt that some of the region impacted is as beautiful as can be found on Earth, so we must strive to retain that beauty.

At the same time it would be nice to share that beauty by making it accessible to all.

Sure, you can rent or buy a boat to explore Berners Bay and the mountains of Lynn Canal, but not all of us can afford to do that. A ferry ride is another option; for a family of four and their vehicle this is also an expensive vacation that many can ill afford to undertake. A road allows many who have never had the chance to just glimpse the beauty north of Juneau to breathe it in as they take a day trip north and stop to let their children gaze at wild goats and rugged peaks. Then when they arrive in Skagway, which many have heard of but never visited, they can take the time to browse the shops and meet their neighbors instead of hurriedly getting in line at the ferry terminal.

Some will say that we will impact businesses in our neighboring communities and this is so. Sure, everyone in Skagway will come down to Fred Meyer and Costco do some shopping and head back home, all 600 of them. However, when 10,000 people from Juneau show up on any given weekend and do a little shopping, especially in the winter months, how big of an impact will that be? Juneau will show up too; it is common knowledge of the car ownership ratio in Juneau; we are ready to drive. Other communities in Southeast are going to fill the impact also, especially when those Marine Highway System resources are diverted from running up and down Lynn Canal and are heading to Hoonah or Coffman Cove instead. This is a real win-win situation.

One other thing, how about that weather? Ever been stranded in Juneau ready to go home and a little fog shows up? Or maybe in Haines and waiting on the ferry and it has a situation. Sure, a road is susceptible to avalanche issues and may occasionally be closed; we know that routine in Juneau already.

However, snow is easily moved and rather quickly, compared to some of the issues that have befallen our blue canoes in the past. We could have cleared the road many times for the amount spent on some recent repairs, and needless to say much more timely.

I am all for working this out together with all of Alaska, but let us not take another 10 years to stay in the same status. Let us at this time work toward a real solution to both the access to Juneau and the perception that Juneau is callous in the way it deals with our neighbors.

Chuck Collins


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