SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Our Only Highway: The Alaska Marine Highway
By Jerilyn Lester


January 26, 2008

TO: Mainland Alaskans and those others on a major road system.

Since coming to Southeast Alaska in 1984, I have seen the government of this state do some bone-head things; but to cut your nose off to spite your face by cutting one of the only ways we have to get to the lower 48 is really stupid!! I take that ferry - and to only have one of the most profitable runs on the Ferry system is really dumb. THIS IS THE HIGHWAY SYSTEM FOR THE ISLANDS OF THE SOUTHEAST OF ALASKA!!!! DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THAT??

I say this to let you know that I would like for you to shut down one of the major highways between Anchorage and anywhere on the mainland for the two weeks that the Ferry is just sitting here in Ketchikan. I am sure that the people on the mainland wouldn't put up with that nor would they think it was cost effective to do so. If you all insist on getting rid of the Alaska Ferry System then you had better be building roads to the mainland from Ketchikan to Canada or connect the islands so that then we can drive the only way out of here with a car. You keep the ferry going between Juneau and everywhere but since we don't have the voting potential of the mainland you forget that we have needs. Take the money that the governor stole from us and build us a road to Canada. Oh Yea, I forgot that money got spent up north on the mainland for their bridges and roads or something. It sure wasn't in Southeast and the other $34 million didn't come down here either - now did it?

How much does it cost to keep up the roads on the mainland? Do they bring in at least half of their upkeep?? Do you shut down for two weeks a month because they don't bring enough money? I would think the answer to the last two questions would be no. Roads or Highways don't pay for themselves and since the Alaska Marine HIGHWAY does pay for at least half of its upkeep, why would you want to shut down one of the most profitable runs?

I hope these comments will make you take notice. But since no where south of Juneau seems to matter much, they probably won't be taken into account. But I feel better about letting you know what you are doing to the part of the state that the Ferry matters most to. I see that you are making new runs for the ferry system to places that don't need it. We use it for not only transportation of people and cars but also for freight so you are also hurting the business of the lower islands. Please treat our highway as you would your own and those on the mainland as well. It is all we have and since it should get some federal money to maintain our highway, there should not be a problem. The problem is that you seem to think that our highway should make a profit and I am sure that your highways don't make any money at all.

As I see it the only problem you all have with the Alaska Marine Highway is that it services southeast. If the Governor had not stolen the $234 million that was meant for Southeast and Ketchikan in particular there would be enough money to run the Alaska Marine Highway for lots of years by your calculations but since the money was earmarked for Ketchikan and Southeast you all took it and spent it on the mainland without as much as a by your leave and now you tell me there isn't enough money to keep My Highway running. Well I suggest that you take some of your money for your highways and use it to keep mine open all the time, 2 trips to Bellingham a week, and find some of the stolen money to fix whatever needs fixing up there where you spent the first $199 million of the Ketchikan Money.

I heard on the news last night that there is a commuter ferry being proposed for up on the mainland. Oh yes that is a good idea since there is a road around the sound there but it takes about 1 hour to get around there. What a shame you can drive to somewhere and now you want a ferry. I also hear that there is a proposed ferry around the Kenai Peninsula, that is another place there is a road and you can drive to the destination. I can't get to Bellingham without the ferry!! Now you want me to have to drive through Canada because in your infinite wisdom we don't need two ferries to Bellingham. How much of the revenue are you willing to send to a foreign country to get your commuter ferry? I would imagine that the two ferries that are proposed for the mainland and the surrounding area won't pay for themselves after the initial two months or so, but in order to fund them one of the only PAYING routes on the line is going to be done away with. Is that what the rest of our money went for? Does this sound a little bitter?? I hope so because in the almost 25 years that I have been here I have seen the plight of Southeast getting worse since we are small and insignificant in your eyes.

Jerilyn Lester
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Southeast Alaskan Resident for almost 25 years. Concerned citizen,and Alaska Marine Highway user."

Received January 24, 2008 - Published January 26, 2008


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