Friday, September 12, 2008

A Muck Review From Rural SE Alaska

This information came to me 9/11/08 via: Nancy Berland of Lynn Canal Conservation. It's been posted as an information source to Grist, Salon, and Gather Press who may opt to utilize. It was also sent to the DNC. What the heck.
Takshunuk Water Shed Council is linked to the title of this posting.
Nancy writes:
"Given the recent national interest in Alaska and Alaska projects like the Bridge to Nowhere, it's important for Alaskans to help the public understand issues we work on and care about, in the midst of all the political spin.
There have been many stories on Governor Palin's canceling the Gravina Bridge, but the state's ongoing efforts to build the Juneau Road have received little national attention."
For each of us she adds:
"Please consider writing a letter to the editor of your hometown newspaper (email addresses can be found by a simple Google search) about the Road to Nowhere, post something on existing blogs, or create your own!"

Background information:
The 2005 federal transportation bill (named after Don Young's wife) had $467 million in Alaska earmarks for the Juneau Road, and the Knik Arm and Gravina Bridges . Congress later removed the earmarks but Alaska got to keep all the money to spend on any transportation projects it prioritized. The governor did not return any money. The Juneau Road is a prioritized project and the only thing currently preventing construction is the lawsuit filed by LCC and other conservation groups.

In September of 2007 Palin cancelled the Gravina Bridge because it was $329 million short of being fully funded. She said "it's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge." She also stated that "much of the public's attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here." (Anchorage Daily News, 9/21/07) This is very different from her saying "no thanks" to federal earmarks.

Some points you may want to make about the Road to Nowhere:
* The road will cost taxpayers lots of money
The latest cost estimate is $374 million, and 90% will be funded by federal transportation dollars. Governor Palin could have canceled
the project at any time during her two years as governor, but has chosen not to.

* The road truly would go Nowhere
The road would dead-end at a mud flat with no human inhabitants. By contrast, the Gravina Bridge would connect Ketchikan to Gravina
Island's 50 residents. Instead of a Juneau Road, by a 79% to 11% margin, Alaskans prefer the state spend transportation dollars on
maintenance and upgrades.

* The road will be used by very few people
Only 380 vehicles per day are expected to use the road once it opens. That's an average of only 15 vehicles per hour.

* The road would only be open part of the time
The 50 mile road would pass through 36 active avalanche zones and 112 other hazards including rock and landslide areas. It is predicted to be
closed 34 days each winter due to avalanches and an undetermined number of days the rest of the year due to massive rock and landslides. You
can mention or link to "Steep, Not Cheap", on YouTube.

Thank you. Every bit of public education helps. And please feel free to forward this email.

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