Who Will Build Roads If Not Government?   Leave a comment

An argument is often made that if you did away with government, you would have no roads, or very poorly maintained roads with expensive tolls because private industry wouldn’t take care of them. BS!

Image result for image of alaska marine highway

There is money to be made in moving stuff around, so roads (and other means of transportation) would still exist, just funded by the people who want and use them.

Consider Alaska, which has a unique transportation system because 80% of our communities are not accessible by road. Thus, the State of Alaska operates the Alaska Marine Highway System and Federal Highways treats it like a highway for funding purposes. The argument is made that, should the State of Alaska stop operating the AMHS, the communities that currently rely on it would have no access to the outside world. BS!

Image result for image of coastal transportation, incLast week, AMHS announced that the Tustumena was delayed at the Vigor Ketchikan Shipyard for two months. The Tustumena services the Aleutian Islands in the summer and takes a beating in heavy seas, which it is designed for. The delay was due to the discovery of additional extensive steel wastage in the engine room and necessary repairs. It is anticipated the Tustumena will return to service departing Homer at 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 18.

AMHS staff explored several options to fill the transportation void resulting from the Tustumena delay. Safety was the highest priority, so utilizing the Tustumena was not an option. The use of another AMHS vessel was not viable without the risk of a more widespread and disruptive service outage both in terms of passenger disruption and financial consequences for individuals and for the marine highway system.

The Alaska Marine Highway System announced today that Coastal Transportation, Inc. will assist AMHS customers impacted by the delay of the M/V Tustumena. Coastal Transportation, based in Seattle, will carry cargo on an “as able basis” from Homer and Kodiak, to Aleutian Islands destinations, at the same cost AMHS charges. Unfortunately, Coastal Transportation is prohibited (by law) from carrying passengers.

Image result for image of coastal transportation, inc

AMHS customers attempting to rebook their cargo with Coastal Transportation should let Coastal Transportation agents know they are displaced AMHS customers to ensure they receive the AMHS rate.

Coastal Transportation transports cargo to communities further out on the Aleutian Islands all the time. This isn’t a hardship or something special really. It’s just making a few extra stops along its route. Why doesn’t it stop in those communities now?

  • AMHS services those communities at a subsidized rate so there’s no profit in it.
  • Coastal Transportation is prohibited from transporting passengers.

 

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 242 airports, 10 ferries serving 35 communities, more than 5,600 miles of highway and 731 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. Coastal Transportation transports cargo to hundreds of coastal communities. Yutana Barge Lines transports cargo to hundreds of Yukon river villages. Outfitting their ships to provide for passengers (once the legal ban has been removed) would take time, but it wouldn’t be impossible.

Image result for image yutana barge linesSo tell me again why transportation would not be available if the AMHS ceased to exist?

Now transfer that to the roads and you see why it’s a silly argument. Roads will exist and be maintained so long as there is commercial value in connecting communities. The differences would be in quality and the quality would likely be improved. A business would not stand for owned-infrastructure (roads) that fall apart every five years when there is technology available (and in long-term current use in Scandinavian countries) to build highways that last decades.

I used to be a skeptic about needing government to build and maintain roads. It was one of those areas where I couldn’t whole-heartedly agree with my anarchist friends. But this press release, which wasn’t intended to have this effect, has opened my eyes. If a commercial enterprise can substitute for the AMHS for a while, it can replace it and do a better job.

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