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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Alaska Marine Highway System

By A. M. Johnson


April 15, 2023


Regarding the various comments to question #1 and #2 related to the Alaska Marine Highway presented in the weekend edition of the Ketchikan Daily News, April 1, in summation after reading the various collection of talking heads feeding us hicks with platitudes and cake, Former Governor Murkowski cut to the chase with sound solutions He recognized the multiply past advisory groups which have produced confusion complete with no further advancement reflecting implication or improvements as a result He himself as member of some or all such groups gives him street creed on proposing a copy of an existing example of working success, the Alaska Railroad commission. Now I admit that if there are flaws within that organization, I am unknowing, however the principal of that process if amendable is worth proceeding to formulation.  Governor Murkowski proceeds to point out the original intent of the system being to give Alaskans access to a road. That "Road" is Prince Rupert South and Haines or Skagway North.  Seattle ,then Bellingham was a political outcome that said the hell with what Alaskans desire.  Reminiscent of the fish traps existence by outside ownership resulting in a big part, Statehood action, similar forces brought about these two distant port decisions.

Former Governor Mackowski continues with solutions, in effect, (paraphrasing) cut the focus on Bellingham and serve Prince Rupert.  How can this not be obvious. First, Alaskans would once again have an affordable route fiscally and of choice in terms of where and what in their travels they desire to make decisions on.  Second, the misnomer that "Bellingham is profitable" doesn't pass the smell test when you apply logic, one can assume that the traffic to a more reasonable costing fare would entice more Alaskans to choose the ferry. in relation to this route, the fuel cost of the Bellingham run would be reflected in a huge reduction offsetting the cost of operation with the shorter turn around providing more of the tradition route of yore.

Former Governor Murkowski's advocation of the Prince Rupert to Skagway route and pray mightily that the system can maintain a schedule.  With a working fleet of two mainliners that can serve Prince Rupert, chance of disruption without backup vessels is reduced extensively.

Folks desiring to visit Alaska would have the secondary vacation coming through Canada and if Alaska is that important will make the drive.  With added border security, folks with bad habits will have second thoughts crossing the border facing Canadian courts.

As to electric ferries, that will be considered a hysterical joke as Alaska plays the "Woke" game and will end up being another boondoggle as the fast ferries. 

A suggestion, dust off the plans of the original diesel-powered ferries, the Taku, Malaspina and Matanuska, update safety/engineering, saving the cost of inventing a new costly engineering /design cost. These ferries as built, served the State for 60 years, why dump success!

It is a sad state of affairs that the system has been allowed to deteriorate to this point and beyond.

In closing, I agree with most of Former Governor Murkowski's views.


Ketchikan, Alaska




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Received April , 2023- Published April 15, 2023

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