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A road and bridge needed, but not to Gravina
By David Rettke


November 04, 2005

I question the intent of Rep. Don Young in the funding of the bridge to Gravina. In a statement to the press he said that Ketchikan only has access to the outside by ferry or the airport and that was the reason for funding the the airport. Um... excuse me Mr. Young... but that still only leaves two ways out of town. By ferry or by airport. You have changed nothing. You have only made an expensive bridge to an island that has no connecting way out, other than the airport.

You try to make it sound like this bridge will give Ketchikan a third way out of town... NOT. What WOULD make a third way out of town would be a bridge to the mainland... then on to Canada. In that respect, Wrangell would also benefit as the road system could be enlarged to include them too. This would be in going along with Governor Murkowski's intent to open roads to more of Southeast Alaska.

Of course... a bridge to Gravina would be nice for a small... very small number of people. Those who have land there and that want to develop it. For the majority of the rest of us it would be an eyesore, and an expensive public project requiring an enormous amount of upkeep funding forever after. There is also the danger brought from cruise ship traffic, float plane traffic, and then, terrorist threat too.

With all due respect, I think that perhaps Mr. Young in his threat to 'quit the senate' if the money is taken away, should be considered his resignation from public office. I for one, do not want a person who threatens to quit on issues such as this rather than working them out. I am also tired of the 'good old boys' and their network using the people and tax monies of the local economy for furthering their interests. I'm very curious why a bridge to Gravina became such an important issue now, thirty years after the fact, while a road to the mainland and a third way in and out of Ketchikan hasn't.

I haven't lived in Alaska or Ketchikan all my life... I am not new by any standards either, since I moved here in 1987. I do have a deep interest in this community and those who live in it. I don't want to see my children saddled with a huge costly bridge that will cost forever in maintenance and upkeep. I don't want an unspoiled view such as looking over to Annette Island from almost anywhere in downtown, to be ruined by a structure that towers over all. Think of your precious tourists Borough Assembly persons... do you really think that they will appreciate seeing a huge tax payer expense staring them in the face as they cruise into town?

A road and a bridge are needed, but not to Gravina. You've had thirty years to build roads over there to be accessed by the ferry, yet I've seen none. In the Seattle area ferries are still in use... not only there but elsewhere in the country too. Ferries are easy to maintain, and in some instances, generate excess funds. I imagine that our airport ferry system could stand some improvement, and to be in touch with their customers more. The system exists that can improve the infrastructure on Gravina... why not use it and support it? Why not improve what we have in the ferry and work on a third way out of town?

That third way could bring in more jobs and business than anything else I've heard bantied about lately. A road to the mainland would be expensive, but it would open up more public lands to the public for viewing and enjoying. It would open up ways for business to expand and grow. It would enhance the tourism industry in ways that we haven't seen yet. In the end that third way into and out of town would probably bring in more jobs than the forty alleged ones the bridge will ever do. And, we'd still have the ferry workers on the payroll too.

David Rettke

Ketchikan, AK - USA




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