By Walt Bolling
September 04, 2007
I support the message delivered recently by Commissioner von Scheben to local people at Ketchikan regarding the Gravina Island Access project. Transportation needs between Ketchikan and Gravina Island are best met by improved ferry service.
We have for many years benefitted by the state's ownership and support of the Ketchikan Shipyard through the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. This facility employs local laborers and supports local business needed to supply the shipyard. The shipyard has the expertise and ability to build with local labor any number and size of ferries needed to serve the airport and outlying islands. The Walden Point Road under construction by the National Guard will require ferry service from its terminus to a facility in Saxman. Again, the Ketchikan Shipyard is now in a position to build a ferry for that connection and for any additional ferries required to service our airport.
Ketchikan has ample land available for residential, commercial, and industrial growth along the existing road system. The community enjoys a healthy residential real estate market, with ample homes and vacant lots for sale. Commercial and retail properties are readily available within both the city and borough. Many of the borough's industrial holdings at Ward Cove are vacant, and have the capacity to meet the anticipated industrial needs of Ketchikan for years to come. Access to all these properties is already provided by Ketchikan's road system. A bridge to Gravina Island is superfluous to the area's need for developable land.
The fledgling residential and industrial uses on Gravina would benefit from improved ferry service. The relatively small ferries needed to deliver this service could be built right here in Ketchikan, and operated by Ketchikan residents. Given Commissioner von Scheben's recent presentation to the chamber of commerce here in Ketchikan, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough should immediately begin a thorough planning process to determine the specifications for a new ferry, and the routing and scheduling options that will best meet the needs of the community. I intend to ask the borough to begin this process.
I am encouraged by the State's direction on this matter. Your actions will serve to bring cohesiveness and the opportunity for planning by the community. I support your policy regarding Gravina Island access and look forward to State of Alaska support to the borough for improving local ferry service.
Received September 01, 2007 - Published September 04, 2007
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