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How many bridge builders live in Ketchikan?
by Dave Rettke


March 24, 2005

Having lived here for quite a few years now, and also having worked at the pulp mill until its demise, and now working for Greens Creek Mining Company in Juneau, yet still living in Ketchikan... I have a few things that are bothering me. 
First and foremost is this bridge to Gravina.  I have heard that it will bring jobs to Ketchikan... and that access to Gravina will be much better than now served.
I have to ask... what jobs will be created that will last beyond the construcion of said bridge?  Not only that, but as many know, very few people own property on Gravina, but a limited partnership happens to own a chunk of property near or on Vallenar Bay.  Around ninety acres if I remember right.  So... this bridge will provide access to Gravina to develop this property.  For a handful of citizens.
I have had the opportunity to read back issues of the Ketchikan Daily News, and have read about the airport when it was being built way back in the early seventies.  I read how the property on Gravina would become accessible and roads would be built now that a ferry was running there daily.  What happened to that?  Where are those roads? Where is that development?
I also remember reading about how one end of the airport caused a more than quadrupling of costs when a 'hole' of epic proportions had to be filled...and it took far more than anyone thought.  So... where is the birdge going to end up hitting Gravina?  Not on 'that' end of the airport is it?  How much more cost will be dumped there due to poor planning, no geology or proper engineering being done to catch this before we have spent millions... hundreds of millions of dollars?  Oh... to develop about one million dollars of property. 
It sounds suspiciously like a certain street development project undertaken just a few years ago.  That 20 some-odd million one mile stretch of road now known as Third Avenue Bypass. Now, I'm not against progress or development of jobs... but we need to develop REAL jobs, not part time short term jobs.
Face it. How many 'bridge builders' live in Ketchikan?  How many jobs will be left once the bridge is finished?  Won't there be a net decrease due to the ferry service being halted once the bridge is opened?  Won't the only real jobs created be those of building the few houses in that ninety acre development and then maybe ten years later we will be right back in the same boat only now with the expensive costs of maintenance and upkeep on a three-hundred million dollar bridge to... heh... nowhere?
Our own bourough Government managed to get rid of twenty five million dollars in quick time to the 'Gateway' business and the only good money ever spent was to the shipyard, that happens to still be in business... barely.  I think that perhaps lacking an investigation by the Attorney General, the real truth of where eighteen million dollars went will never be found out... and we the people of Ketchikan will always be behind the curve on many opportunities.
In ending, I guess what bothers me the most is the fact that it seems our elected officals are grasping at straws now that the money is gone, and this bridge will be our salvation.  I'm sorry to say it will cost us dearly in the end, and when the proposed jobs do not materialize after the construction of the bridge is over... well, I wonder if the same elected officals will still be around to ask questions of.  Or will they, like they have done over the Gateway business, dissappear the public record due to 'storage costs'?
Oh... one more question... where will the logs to run that veneer lathe come from?  If I remember correctly, it requires around eight thousand logs per shift to run efficently.
Dave Rettke
Ketchikan, AK - USA


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