SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


The bridge is still a bad idea
By Michael Spence


August 26, 2007

A bad idea promoted by a few highly motivated and perhaps even well intended people is ultimately still a bad idea.

DOT commissioner Leo Von Sheben could not have made the point clearer, or to those who most need it clarified, at the recent Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The bridge to Gravina has never made any fiscal sense in any objective forum, anywhere.

There is no tax base in Ketchikan to maintain the bridge, let alone to build it. There are no private investors willing to carry or even share the burden. The bridge is a concept based purely and totally on the empty promise that someone else's money was available to build it. Its advocates were (are) banking on nothing more than future subsidies from federal, state and borough treasuries to support it in the future.

Worse yet, the bridge is a threat to its greatest commercial asset; its natural harbor. The same harbor that allowed steamers to bring settlers here in the 19th century, cannery and log ships in the 20th century, and now the present day cruise ships. None of these ships from any period would fit through the bridge contemplated over the East channel of Tongass Narrows. Even if the largest vessels could access the port through the West channel crossing, it would force a needless constriction of both the waterways into one very narrow channel. For what purpose?

This very real threat against Ketchikans harbor is balanced against a bogus promise that Gravina Island has more land for development than Revillagigedo Island, on which Ketchikan already is built. Gravina Island is a fraction of the size of Revillagigedo. Admittedly the roads we have on Revillagigedo Island are poor, but they could be fixed and extended for a fraction of the cost of a bridge or the presently underway Gravina Highway project.

It is time for Ketchikan's leadership to formulate a better reasoned transportation plan that protects Ketchikans most valuable resources and stimulates private investment, not more subsidized industry.


Michael Spence
Ketchikan, AK

Received August 23, 2007 - Published August 26, 2007

About: " Ketchikan resident over 25 yrs, marine pilot in Southeast Alaska for 30 yrs."


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Ketchikan, Alaska