Alaska Needs Roads   Leave a comment

A comment on another posting caused me to want to revisit this topic.

FACT:  80% of Alaska’s communities are not accessible by road.

Stop to think about that for a moment! What would your state be like if 80% of the communities were inaccessible by road?

Yeah! Isolated, lonely, lacking opportunity ….

This is not to say that Alaskans want to pave our state. Most of those communities are accessible by airplane and they’re okay with that.

However, King Cove has proven that not having a road means your residents are in danger during a medical emergency. Nearly 1/3 of the year has such extreme weather that they cannot get out if they need to.

Economic development requires roads. Whether it requires the massive interstate system that exists in the Lower 48 is subject for debate. From an Alaskan perspective, I doubt that is truly necessary. On the other hand, Alaska has suffered from the lack of roads. What economic development we have is funded by the State of Alaska spending of royalty oil sales revenues and, I’m ashamed to say, federal revenue sharing. Most of our private jobs are oil-related or oil-support-related. Oil development has been slowing for a variety of reasons (no, we’re not running out of oil), but a primary limitation is lack of access to fields. One large oil deposit on State land is being held hostage because the federal government will not permit a bridge to cross the Colville River.

Governor Sean Parnell has made it a priority to start construction of several roads to resource sites. We’re not talking about an interstate highway web. We’re talking about a handful of narrow, gravel roads that lead to general areas where there are proven large mineral or petroleum deposits.

Alaska is asking for the right to build a basic transportation network that would still leave most Alaska communities without road access, but that would be fine because they could catch a plane to get to a job rather than have to leave the state entirely to make money.

For those of us who consider Alaska our home and our country, it is necessary to build for the future because we want our children to raise their children here. Building for the future does not mean we want to resemble New Jersey. It means we want to resemble Alaska with an actual economy.

Posted February 21, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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