A picture showing the Juneau road system ending at Cascade Point in Berners Bay in May 2006.  (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Cost effective for whom?

It is interesting that current and former employees of the Department of Transportation and Public facilities are promoting the idea of building a new ferry terminal at Cascade Point at a cost of $30 million dollars. The reason given for the proposal is that it is the only way to render the ferry system’s two Alaska Class ferries cost effective.

Cost effective for whom? Cascade Point is a good 40 miles from downtown Juneau. It is on the South side of Berners Bay. I believe the taxi fare would be well over $100. Travelers from Haines and Skagway without a car would be faced with the same situation.

Here’s an idea that would make these ferries even more cost effective. We could build a terminal on the North side of Berners Bay and have a launch ramp on the South side. Anything more than that would not be cost effective.

When these ferries were designed and built, no provision was made for crew quarters. I guess they assumed the road would be extended so that crew quarters would not be necessary. But the road was not extended. So both ferries sat tied to the dock in 2021. Then they added crew quarters to the Hubbard for $15 million. Doing the same to the Tazlina will cost another $18 million. That way they could run both boats to Haines and Skagway from Auke Bay. But wait! If the upgrades are completed, why build a new 30 million dollar ferry terminal at Cascade Point? It doesn’t make sense.

Instead of focusing solely on the cost-effectiveness of the ferries themselves, once in a while they should consider the cost to the travelers and the convenience of the travelers.

Ray Preston,


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