SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Don Young Guest of Honor at Pork Dinner
By Carol Cairnes


April 10, 2007
Tueday PM

On April 2nd Don Young, the Representative for all Alaska, came to Ketchikan as the guest of honor at a barbequed pork dinner. How funny is that? He was not wearing his Golden Fleece, but flecks of it were gleaming from his teeth. I think he's been chewing on it. There was no mention of the Gravina situation in any of the promotional material he was handing out to the crowd, which fit quite comfortably into the new Sunny Point Conference Room. The usual diehard geezers (myself included) where there, but he was targeting a younger demographic. "Young Man" and "Young Woman" said the campaign buttons. Mr. Young seems to be looking to the future. So what's wrong with Ketchikan's local representation?

When I go through the current state documents about Gravina I see that the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has applied for and received a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to build Alternative F1 of the Gravina Access Project. Ketchikan's transportation dollars continue to flow into a pointless project that is never going to materialize while the residents of Ketchikan dodge potholes that could swallow a brown bear.

Young didn't give up his pork, but he seems to have come to the realization that constructing a bridge across the Tongass Narrows might not be the best approach for the future development of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough in spite of what he says to local reporters. The focus has shifted back to Tongass Narrows as a superhighway itself and the talk is all of ships and ferries. Thank goodness hydro has risen from the ashes too. And at last there is serious talk about supporting fiber optic highways coming into our area, a special blessing for Prince of Wales Island residents who will likely never have a road link to the mainland.

The Gravina Bridge has vanished from Senator Stedman's online Newsletter. But as a parting shot, the defeated Frank Murkowski awarded a bid to Kiewit for design and construction of the 3.2 mile Gravina Roadway. If I had the energy, I'd follow that money trail, but I d rather head down a brighter path. Governor Palin seems to be open to new directions, but the message she keeps getting from Ketchikan is what? That we're lunatics? That we want to put the results of transportation dollars spent in a place that none of us drive? You see it, don't you? Stand in town and look across the Tongass Narrows east of the airport runway. There's where the money to fill your potholes is going, into a road you'll probably never drive on. Meanwhile, you're afraid to teach your kid to drive because the roads on this island are so dangerous, but you can't let them walk because the there are no pedestrian paths along the road.

I think what Don Young would like to have said to the folks last Tuesday was, "Eat your pork, don't waste it. Feed your children with it, not your Fat Cats." It is overdue for Ketchikan to reassess its transportation needs. If we build our town, they will come. After all, Ketchikan is the best-kept secret in Alaska. We need to show some pride in our beauty and charm by taking care of what there is and development will beat a path to our door.

We are so lucky here that our island is a rock. Upon this rock we could build to the sky. We could have a skyscraper built with the latest technology that would meet the needs of many modern industries and take up a footprint no larger than the old hospital building that blights our downtown. The intersection of Forest Avenue and the new 3rd Avenue Bypass Road is another promising location for vertical expansion. We need to lift our sights beyond the delusions of past administrations.

Finally, I would once again like to praise the work of the airport ferry crew. All the rhetoric about access to the airport maligns the fine job they do for us. There is no faster, easier, more efficient, more dependable or safer way that could be developed to get across the Tongass Narrows short of having Scotty beam us over. Thanks, guys. It's always nice to have you as my welcoming party when I come off the road.

Carol Cairnes
Ketchikan, AK

Received April -9, 2007 - Published April 10, 2007



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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska