By Patrick Jirschele
December 04, 2005
To enhance access to Pennock Island and Gravina Island to
promote the development of private and Borough lands.
The Gravina Bridge was supposed to enhance access to the
airport and make it easier to develop property. National ridicule
of the project has forced Congress to remove earmarked bridge
monies. This money has been left in the general transportation
bill. It is not likely that the powerful Anchorage area districts
will appropriate $300 to $350 million for our bridge. We need
to be realistic and capture part of the money meant for the bridge
to build alternatives to do what the bridge was meant to do.
The attitude of "bridge or nothing" will leave the
community with nothing.
Property on Pennock and Gravina is difficult to develop because
of the cost of getting building materials to a beach site. Loading
a boat and unloading is usually by hand. Heavy machinery must
be moved by barge. The DNR will no longer allow building a dock
out of treated wood. Steel pilling and metal piers has raised
the cost of dock construction to $50,000 to $100,000. The estimate
for a power pole is $10,000 because it must be set with a helicopter.
This is cost prohibitive for most property owners.
The difficulties of building on the islands are not insurmountable,
but have proved too much for most.
By utilizing and enhancing existing infrastructure, we can
actually provide more and better access and more local jobs.
1) Add two more ferry terminals to the already funded two for
the FV Lituya, then we can access four islands instead of two.
By utilizing the ferry to access Saxman, Gravina, Metlacatla,
and Pennock; we can expect more runs at lower cost over time
as the run grows and usage increases.
2) Construct approximately nine miles of road on Pennock and
approximately six miles on Gravina. This will open lands for
development and recreation.
The Gravina road should be of two lane 25mph asphalt construction.
It will connect Black Sand Cove parking lot with the Gravina
Point Ferry Terminal and make its way to the newly constructed
road at the south end of the airport. This will provide road
from Black Sands to Peninsula Point.
The Pennock road will be of two lane 25mph asphalt construction.
It will follow upland of privately owned property (with a few
exceptions) from the Pennock Island Ferry Terminal up the east
channel to the Snows Cove area. Then it will head down the west
channel till it hits the Sandy Beach Recreation Site at the south
3) Build four new small boat harbors with twenty to thirty slips
each for sixteen to twenty-six foot boats. They should be located
at each end of the road system on Pennock and Gravina.
The private development of lands on Pennock and Gravina Islands
will provide an additional tax base for the needs of local government.
But more than that, with proper marketing of island homes, construction
and the influx of population will help provide a healthy economy
for the area.
A few miles of road and some small marinas will bring an influx
of people recreating and building homes. An entrepreneur will
see a need for fuel and a few other necessities. Soon a gas station
and maybe a mom and pop grocery store. A golf course in the middle
of Pennock marketed right could bring the fifty year old plus
second home demographic. The possibilities are real.
With the exception of designing a golf course, all the work in
this proposal can be done with local craftsmen. Surveyors, pilebucks,
machinery operators, linemen, carpenters, the list of jobs goes
It is the mix of transportation options that will make this plan
work. Two ferries with walk on and drive on to Gravina, a ferry
to Pennock, marinas for private boats and water taxies, and roads
for when you get there. Leave one part out and you may as well
forget the whole thing.
If you like this proposal and would like to see it or something
similar implemented, contact the Borough Assembly Members,
the City Council Members, Bert Steadman, Jim Elkins and Governor
Murkowski. Time is short to get it into the State Transportation
Bill. I have been told (second or third hand) that proposals
have to be submitted by the ninth of December. If it is true,
act now. It doesn't need to be all or nothing.
Pennock Island, Alaska - USA
Note: As a member of the USCG
Pat Jirschele was transferred to Ketchikan in the summer
of 1980 and never left. Now retired from the IBEW, he is
building a home on Pennock Island.
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
Send a Letter -------Read Letters
E-mail the Editor
Stories In The News