Does Juneau really need a highway? |   Leave a comment

Does Juneau really need a highway? |

For the record, I’m not opposed to the Kensington Mine. Clearly, I support roads to resources such as Ambler and (in our dreams) Nome. Bjorn and I agree that the road is a bad idea, but we work from completely different foundations. Alaska has plenty of unspoiled wilderness. We could build hundreds of miles of road and still not scratch the surface of our unspoiled wilderness. I don’t except the premise that roads ruin everything. They provide access to the wilderness that otherwise would not exist and that’s a GOOD thing.

The Juneau Access Road, however, is not. It’s a 51-mile road that stops well short of providing Juneau land access to the rest of the world. It’ll be expensive to build and closed much of the year due to avalanche danger. It will make a great jobs program for the Howitzer crews.

If Coeur Alaska wants a road, the State of Alaska should work with them to build on with Coeur’s own dollars. What? Doesn’t that contradict what I said about the Ambler Road? No, because the Ambler Road would provide access to the outside world for isolated villages as well as support a mining region. Similar to the Pogo Mine near Fairbanks, this road really has no purpose other than to provide a road to the mine, unless they build the new ferry terminal, which makes no economic sense at all. If at some point, the engineers figure out how to run that road all the way to Haines and keep it open for at least 48 weeks a year, the State of Alaska and Coeur should be able to work out the access because good sense would dictate we’d write it into the original permitting plan.

Or, hey, it might just be easier to move the state capitol to the mainland where the majority of the population could access it without driving through a foreign country.

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