Well, it looks like we are stuck on the Juneau Road roundabout, circling back to the same old question again -- should we extend a dead end 50 more miles?
The answer is clearly no. The proposed 50-mile extension is a dangerous and overpriced waste of scarce resources that would ravage the ecologically and culturally important Berners Bay up Lynn Canal to the Katzehin River delta. This dead end would force drivers to cross 36 avalanche chutes and over 100 “geological hazards,” like rock fall areas, to reach a new ferry terminal. Not only would this be dangerous to travelers, but expensive for taxpayers in Alaska and around the country. Four years ago, state officials estimated the cost at $574 million with an average $5 million in maintenance costs.
Back in December 2016, Governor Walker directed DOT to select the ‘no build’ alternative. Citing the state’s multi-billion dollar financial crisis, Governor Walker reallocated most of the $38 million set aside for the Road to shovel-ready transportation and capital projects.
This “zombie road" raised its ugly head again last March when legislators were trying to pass an emergency funding bill to keep the ferry system and state Medicaid program afloat. Attached to this must-pass bill, road proponents offered an amendment to reallocate $21 million back to the road. Luckily, the amendment failed.
Within days, the McDowell Group published the results of a poll of some 400 Juneau residents. According to the poll, 54 percent (220 people) support extending this dead-end another 50 miles.
I bet there are far more than 220 residents of Juneau willing to thank Governor Walker for his commonsense leadership back in 2016 and who would ask him to stand firm today. What all of Southeast Alaska really needs is an efficient, effective, and fully funded ferry system. Help us reach our goal of 220 or more signers to tell Governor Walker that Juneau does not want this dead-end road.
The Juneau Road has been and will always be a bad idea. We need to get off of this roundabout and move forward, finding projects that improve our communities instead of wasting money on dead-end projects. With your help, we can do just that.