Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: More editorials about Alaska's bridges - this one from Garrison Keillor

Thursday, August 18, 2005

More editorials about Alaska's bridges - this one from Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor of "Prarie Home Companion" fame, wrote an amusing (and somewhat inaccurate) op-ed piece for The Chicago Tribune yesterday regarding Uncle Ted's bridge projects.

For Alaska, the Republicans earmarked $223 million for a bridge almost as long as the Golden Gate to link the town of Ketchikan (pop. 8,000)--which is a town that exists to sell T-shirts and postcards to cruise passengers for three months a year--to the local airport on Gravina Island, replacing a seven-minute ferry ride. Alaskans also will receive a billion-dollar 2-mile-long bridge connecting Anchorage to hundreds of square miles of undeveloped wetlands, a great convenience for birdwatchers who now, instead of having to kayak across the water to observe the red-bellied grommet, can drive over in their Explorers and bring a mobile home with them.

Had Minnesota voted Republican, as Alaska wisely did, we might have gotten a canal connecting the Mississippi to Lake Superior and a high-speed rail link between Bemidji and Roseauand maybe a 10,000-foot runway at the Waseca (pop. 8,389) International Airport.
I posted a response on The Prarie Home Companion website's message board, The Chatterbox Cafe:

I enjoyed the article. As an Alaskan, however, I must protest just a little.

First off, not all of us voted Republican...really...I promise. There are a few hardy liberal folks up here who collectively have less clout than even the English major lobby.

Secondly, many of us, conservative and liberal, could not agree more about the ridiculousness of the proposed Ketchikan bridge. It's kind of embarassing and we are trying to scrap the idea.

Thirdly, the second bridge (the Knik bridge) is a very different issue from the one in Ketchikan. As it stands, there is only one road leading out of Anchorage, a place where half (about 300,000) of the entire state population resides. As the population grows and more folks live north towards the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, commuting on that one road can be quite a nightmare, especially in the winter. The bridge to Knik will not only provide an additional, faster way in and out of Anchorage, it will also allow folks to build in the Knik area and still be able to commute to Anchorage within a reasonable amount of time.

Finally, stating in disparaging terms that the Knik bridge will link Anchorage to "wetlands" is rather silly, as 130 million acres of Alaska (1/3 of the state) are considered wetlands, which includes large areas in Anchorage. Many of the most habitable places for humans reside around those "wetlands," and the area that the Knik bridge connects to is the far side of the Mat-Su Valley containing the towns of Wasilla and Palmer.

If you have any questions or doubts, feel free to come up and visit so you can take a look for yourself.

I don't know if Mr. Keillor reads the message board, but it will be interesting to see the responses.


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