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Gravina Island Bridge
by Tyrell Rettke


October 17, 2004

Having lived in Ketchikan for 15 years, and listened to much discussion about the proposed idea(s), I have come to the conclusion that a Gravina access bridge is not a good idea.

1. It will be too expensive for what it will provide. The budget being discussed is hundreds of millions. This money could just as easily be used to build a bridge off this island, to the mainland, rather than another island, and provide the same jobs, and give us a way off of "the rock", as well as opening up trucking lines of shipment. There are several ideas for this, one including a bridge to Bell Island north of Revilla G. Island, as well as going right over the "east west" line of the island and crossing right into Canada (who purportedly has offered to match us on the other side). The only hurdle to jump in that would be environmental red tape, (roadless act, etc), but I think it could be done. (Maybe find a way to call it "Homeland Security *wink*)

2. The benefits are not for the majority. I personally do not own land on Pennock or Gravina. There are several industrial areas on Gravina (saw mill, etc), and of course the airport, but the rest is mostly privately owned, large chunks of which is being held by a shadow corporation that does not have to list its members. Most people in and around Ketchikan have no reason to go to Gravina on a daily basis. The land is not remarkable in attributes other than muskeg, and would not make for good housing, and only certain areas carry much further development, as most hunters will tell you. As a side note, every person I know of that lives on Pennock (pertaining to several of the plans that require stop offs and even off ramps on Pennock) lives on Pennock for the simple fact that it IS remote. They don't want traffic and the "to-do" of the city. It seems that most of the "Pennock" land owners that are all for the bridge, do not reside on Pennock. Some, I've heard, don't even live in state! Basically, this would serve (once again) a few people in (and out) of the community, who by some odd coincidence manage to make a lot of money every time something like this comes along. Be it a veneer mill, bridge or what have you. If those who own land on Gravina need, and want a bridge so bad, why not put your pennies together and build it with your money. The people of Ketchikan cannot afford to be dragged through another debacle like this.

3. Is it needed? We built an airport, with a very long runway, for its time, without a bridge. We recently extended this runway, without a bridge. There is a saw mill, constructed without the use of a bridge. We have gotten by with the use of ferries and barges so far, I have seen nothing that indicates a need for any great increase in this type of mobility that the bridge would grant. For the money, you could build additional ferries (which, if you recall is what we did not 5 years ago?) As for emergencies, we have an airport, complete with landing spaces for helicopters, and an operational fire response team on site. Emergencies have been dealt with fully from the 1970s up to date, with very little need for expansion of this sort. Helicopters are faster than the bridge would be, and it's the same story with on site response for fire.

So basically, there are much more reasonable, useful,(moral?) economic, (for the rest of us) choices for a bridge than one to Gravina.

Tyrell Rettke
Ketchikan, AK - USA


Related Information:

Gravina Access Project


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