Juneau's Road to Ruin
The Governor of Alaska has asked Congress for nearly $300 million dollars to build the Juneau Access Road. This costly and controversial project would require removal of 65 miles of pristine coastline along Lynn Canal, the longest and deepest fjord in North America. Taxpayers for Commonsense, in their report Roads to Ruin, calls this road one of the biggest transportation boondoggles in the country.
Here are the reasons:
LACK OF LOCAL SUPPORT
In the over 30 years of operation, there have been no safety-related deaths on board the Alaskas ferry system. Compare this with the 70 Americans who die on our nations rural roads each day, according to a September 2004 report from the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials.
The road will put a ring of pavement around Berners Bay, most of which is a Congressionally protected wild land treasured for its scenic value and home to moose, bears, whales, beaver, salmon, sea lions, herring and bald eagles.
The proposed road would come within half a mile of 100 bald eagle nests and skirt two major Steller sea lion haulouts. One of these sea lion "beaches" has been designated as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act.
WASTE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), funding the Juneau Road could cause the delay or elimination of other transportation projects currently in the states budget.
The state has argued that roads are cheaper to maintain than ferries, but the latest DOT study found that the Juneau Road will cost the state $7 million more than continuing with the current ferry service in the Lynn Canal when all of the costs are considered over a 30-year time period.
According to the DOT, building the road will not result in any significant economic development for Alaska. The only growth will be in the amount of Recreational Vehicles trying to squeeze into Juneau - DOT predicts the number of RVs in town could quadruple in the first year the road is completed.
TRACK RECORD: THE ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
The State is a billion dollars in the hole for deferred maintenance for roads, harbors and other capitol projects.
DOT has poor record for accurately estimating the cost of similar mega-projects. The Whittier Tunnel actually cost $89 million, even though they originally estimated it would be $48 million.
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