16 November, 2005

From worse to worser

Daily news! The U.S. Congress just did something goofy. They got rid of much-ridiculed earmarks for a couple bridges in Alaska, ostensibly saving taxpayers $432 million. But they still gave the money to Alaska, to spend as the state likes. So not only do the taxpayers still get the shaft, but so could the environment.

Have these people ever looked at the Alaska Dept of Transportation's priority list? Probably not. That's why they have furry creatures like me. Take a look at the Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan, with its $250 million road across Baranof Island. (Note to Alaska: This cost estimate for a 25-mile road through endangered ptarmigan habitat is very, very lowball.) It would connect Sitka with the Inner Passage, saving some ferries and ferry passengers a few hours on the water. In return, passengers would traverse 4,000-foot rockfields and glaciated peaks well above the tundra -- in cars -- to get to 9,000-population Sitka, which is currently one of the more car-free places to live in North America.

But that's just part of its wonderful vision of killing ferries:
In southern Southeast, the construction of new highways would establish a through connection from Ketchikan to the Cassiar Highway in Canada. This new route would also include connections to Wrangell and Petersburg. Initially these highway routes would require several shuttle ferry links, which ultimately could be replaced with bridges. With these links in place, travel between these communities and trips into Canada, would no longer require a lengthy ferry trip.
That's all business as usual in Alaska, where transportation policy can be summed up as "we've got oil, we should use it." The state where they wisely created a water-ferry system and a scrappy bunch of bush pilots rather than over-engineered Interstates and jet airports now wants to join the rest of the USA in our oil-profligacy by building jet airports and highways throughout the vast, 600,000-population domain. Jeez, just build the bridge to nowhere already.


if it's going to be warmer there and the internet is changing how the highly-financed live, maybe it's time to expect a real estate boom in the arctic. smart thinking to build the roads ahead of time, i say. 

Posted by chromo

If they're counting on increased warmth, I hope they're also counting on melting tundra, Chromo. Any such thing as a housemudboat? ;-)


Posted by Saheli

haven't you heard? we're coming to the end of a miniature ice age. alaska is the new florida and the polar bears are having a housewarming party before they croak. 

Posted by chromo

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