Ketchikan bridge pulls focus, funding from other projects

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The recent letter in the Ketchikan Daily News from Walt Bolling has motivated me to express my reservations about the bridge to Gravina. As he stated, unless we let our thoughts be known, we will quietly acquiesce to the idea that everyone in Ketchikan supports the bridge.

I have a number of questions for our elected officials:

• A parking structure will be needed at the airport. Who will fund it?

• Developing Gravina will involve massive investment in infrastructure for roads, power, water and sewer. Who will fund this?

• Will it be necessary to relocate the airport terminal to the other side of the runway to connect with the road from the bridge?

• Elevated roadways are notorious for "black ice" when temperatures hover near freezing. Will we have funding to keep the bridge de-iced in winter?

• The airport ferry operates at a profit. Will we continue to operate the ferry if the bridge is built? Rep. Don Young suggested this on a recent visit. In that case the ferry will need to be heavily subsidized. Initially there was to be no access to the bridge from Pennock. That appears to have changed. What is the additional cost of adding this access with the accompanying roads?

Bridge supporters have compared this bridge to the bridges in Juneau and Sitka. Neither of those bridges present the hazards to local flight and cruise ship traffic that a massive structure across Tongass Narrows would present.

To place the bridge as our only funding priority is to ignore other important projects. We need funding for a solution to the haloacetic compounds in our drinking water. We should complete the Swan Lake Intertie project, with the eventual goal of connecting to B.C. hydropower. Safe drinking water and affordable, clean power certainly take precedence over an unnecessary bridge.

There are surely other projects worthy of our legislators' efforts, rather than focusing only on this huge undertaking that will forever alter the beautiful landscape we all take pleasure in. Let's answer all the questions before we pour millions of dollars into a bottomless money pit like Boston's "Big Dig."

Kathleen M. Ford


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