A Third Proposal
By Patrick Jirschele
December 05, 2005
To provide a feasibility study for a Ketchikan hard link to the
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 seek ways to plan a future for Ketchikan. The attitude of
"bridge or nothing" will leave the community with nothing.
Ketchikan is located on an island with no hard connection to
The two methods of travel to
and from Ketchikan are by water or by air.
Ferry service in and out of
Ketchikan is subject to schedule changes, breakdowns and overcrowding
during summer tourist season.
The single commercial air carrier,
beside the air taxis, has been experiencing the financial woes
of high maintenance and rising fuel costs. This has been reflected
in their fares.
Almost all goods are transported in and out of Ketchikan by barge.
The failure of the air carrier or a State reduction of funding
for the ferry system would prove disastrous to Ketchikan's fragile
Ketchikan has the first deep water port north of Puget Sound
on U.S. soil. The port has multiple egresses, deep water anchorage,
wharves, a shipyard, U.S. Coast Guard supply center, and an airport
that can handle a C5 cargo plane. We need to make the community
of more strategic importance to the military by building a hard
link to the mainland.
There is a plan for a road in the
Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan. The Ketchikan part
of the Bradfield Canal system is many years down the road. If
my intent was to build a road to Wrangell, I would go the Bradfield
route. If my intent was to go to Ketchikan, I would go up the
Unuk River trail right-of-way.
Build a railroad. The British Columbia Railroad has been extended
Lake and, if the scale on my map is close, it is about a hundred
and seventy miles from Ketchikan. The road is about a hundred
and fifteen miles.
Why a railroad? Because it is more cost effective to build and
maintain than a highway. It leaves a smaller footprint, is easier
to keep open in the winter and most importantly, a railroad will
handle more weight. That is why the State is extending the railroad
80 miles to Fort Greely and why connecting Fort Greely to Dease
Lake was the subject of discussion at the Alaska-Canada Rail
Corridor Conference in April. Southeast Alaska was not included
in the discussions.
Not only would a hard link make Ketchikan more attractive for
home porting war ships, it would bring in a different class of
tourist. We now cater to the five hour tourist who spends very
little. A hard link will bring in the fifty to five hundred hour
tourist in cars and motor homes. These are the folks who buy
gas, groceries and eat in restaurants.
We need to act and plan for a diverse future. Ketchikan has too
many assets and too many talented citizens to be floundering
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 Stedman, 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, AK - 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
Proposal By Patrick Jirschele - Pennock Island, AK - USA
Second Proposal By Patrick Jirschele - Pennock Island, AK
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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