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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Toll Bridge? I don't think so
By Lance Mertz


March 13, 2012
Tuesday PM

Once in a while I check to see what is up in Ketchikan by looking at Sitnews. As usual it is full of this and that, but there was a letter this week that I had to respond to.

A toll bridge? OK, I ran the numbers. Let's say you can build it on the cheap, let's say for $100 million (which is probably impossible). That's right, $100 with six zeroes. You have to issue bonds for something like this and in this case, they would be "revenue bonds. At 30 years payoff, with 5% interest you would need $8,333,333 the first year to pay the interest and put money aside to pay off the loans someday (it's called amortization, look it up). 

Being generous, and I know the numbers, about 100,000 people get on planes in Ketchikan every year, maybe a little less of more. Let's say there are 100,000 vehicles as well. So, if you charge for each vehicle it would be $33.33 per car to just pay the interest. If you want to amortize the principle it is $83.33 per day.

Even adding cars for people that could build houses and move over there (where would they get power, water, etc?) once the bridge is in you would end up with maybe another 100 cars a day, for a total of another 36,500 a year the price would be $61 a trip. This assumes charging one way only, but you get the drift.

For $8.333 million a year you could do a lot of improvements to Ketchikan.

The last I heard the bridge price tag was closer to $500 million. That would mean over $400 per trip. It does not compute.

Makes the ferry look pretty inexpensive.

Lance Mertz
Seattle, WA


Received March 12, 2012 - Published March 13, 2012

Related Viewpoint:

letter GRAVINA TOLL BRIDGE By Pete Ellis


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