What’s this? Juneau warming to a road?


A new McDowell Group poll shows that Juneau residents are warming up to the idea of a road to Katzehin River, and a short ferry crossing to Haines and Skagway.

The poll shows that while 54 percent of respondents said they support the project to Katzehin, some 60 percent would really like the project if it went all the way to Skagway. That Skagway option is not currently on the table and has many challenges associated with it, both environmental and cost.

The survey asked more than 400 people with both landline phones and cell phones their views on transportation issues facing the Capital City. The median age of the respondent was 49; the median age of Juneau is 47. Men favored the road more than women: 60 percent of male respondents wanted the road built.

The First Things First Alaska Foundation, which is a pro-road nonprofit group, and the City and Borough of Juneau commissioned the poll. For the Foundation, it was a big risk, according to those close to the group, because the McDowell Group is known to only conduct fair opinion polls, and the chips would have to fall where they may.

One takeaway, said Denny DeWitt of First Things First, is that the opposition to the road has been so vocal for years that the public thought the general sentiment was against the road.

In fact, in 2016 Gov. Bill Walker opted for a “no-build” (also known as “no-access” alternative) to Juneau Access because so many vocal Juneauites, many in his own administration, oppose the road. They comprise the most liberal, isolationist faction of the capital city.

But this first scientific data shows that Juneau as a whole actually favors the Juneau Access Project.

“This is the first true data set where folks are not bullied because they have a difference of opinion. This is the first time they could just answer the question and be safe and secure in their answer, and not be shouted down for it,” DeWitt said.

Those who favor the road have been subject to personal attacks, he said, and people who have private lives don’t revel at the idea of being heckled and booed at meetings. They just stay home.

“Folks are of the most part are saying, ‘I’ll be darned, that’s not what we’ve been told all this time,” DeWitt said. “This was a hell of a big crap shoot for First Things First,” because they sat down with McDowell Group and knew the company wouldn’t sign off on anything but a credible poll.

DeWitt has a point about the public opinion. In 2014, 40 out of 55 people speaking at a public hearing on the Juneau Access Project spoke against the project and only 13 spoke in favor of the 48-mile road, which is slated to cost $574 million. All but 10 percent of the project is federal money that has already been set aside.

Last week both state representatives from Juneau, Justin Parish and Sam Kito III, voted against restoring the state portion of funding that had been reserved for the project, which would bring hundreds of jobs to the Juneau area. The McDowell survey shows them out of step with more than half of their constituents.

While a road to and from the road system out of Haines and Skagway is still controversial, more Juneau respondents liked the concept of a second bridge to North Douglas, known as the North Douglas Crossing. Nearly 8 in 10 surveyed residents support the construction of a second bridge, including a solid 37 percent who strongly support the project. Just 14 percent are opposed.

The number one reason that people cited favoring the second crossing was access.

The ferries for the crossing from Katzehin to Haines and Skagway are already being built in Ketchikan as part of a project developed in 2013-2014, when the state decided to fund the entire ferry build, and turn back federal funds to allow an in-state shipyard to have a better chance at bidding the project. The award went to Vigor Alaska.

[Read: Road is essential infrastructure]




  1. Once the road to Skagway is built, we can drive from Juneau to Seattle through BC according to the following simple arithmetic. 1680 miles Juneau to Seattle. 1680/25miles/gallon = 67 gals of fuel..
    67gals x $2.75/gal= $185 total fuel cost one-way. 1680/55mph = about 30 hours actual drive time.
    Assume one motel stay for $120 plus $40.for oil depreciation, etc. Total trip cost $345.

    If you go to Ak Marine Highway Ferry here https://bookamhs.alaska.gov/book/journey/journeySearch/?step=next … and book a trip Juneau to Bellingham in May for a Subaru Outback with two adults the cost for one-way ticket is $1970.

    This is such a no-brainer its hard to imagine there are people, and organizations (like SEACC) actually opposed to building road access to Juneau’s capital. Its pitiful.

    • To add to this, the old projections for the road were about $600,000,000 AND you would still have to take a ferry at the end. Building the road all the way to Skagway would cost well north or $1,000,000,000 (that’s billion with a B). or about $30,000 per resident of Juneau. Hardly a good deal for the other %95 of Alaska. 😉

  2. Pretty sure that most lawmakers will resist a road to Juneau. They have a sweet deal now that allows very limited exposure and access to the legislature. Much of there work
    Is accomplished outside public scrutiny. Those of us who have been in Juneau during the session know exactly what I mean.

  3. Let’s just do another billion dollar study/survey to see if it can be done. How much money has been spent on this of the 40 years I know of. Just build the damn road.

  4. No road! This idea is so stupid! Don’t scar the beauty of the natural landscape that all these tourists come to see;the last corner of North America we haven’t plundered and destroyed yet! We have a wide and free water highway from Juneau to Skagway! Let’s come up with all the harmless,creative ways to utilize it without harming the natural beauty that all of us love! The road would destroy the natural beauty and be a heavy ongoing expense in maintenance;which would not be worth it! A water highway lay before us for intelligent and careful utilization! Come on, people,think;the road is so stupid,expensive,and ultimately destructive to the beauty we love in our corner of the great,unspoiled land of Alaska! Take your precious car on the ferry to Skagway! Just look at those untouched Mountains;just as God and Nature made them! We Alaskans should be hold-outs in the ongoing overdevelopment and ensuing destruction of this beautiful planet;as is seen in so many other places! All the people who dream of the unspoiled beauty of Alaska will thank us!

  5. Seems almost rude…

    Another bloody push poll by another bloody shill to preach what “others” believe they, and therefore we, need…

    A shill whose client list includes, would you believe it? the whole gaggle of governments, companies, and non-profits who have the most to benefit from a push poll…

    Would have far more respect for government officials who decree suck it up, you’re getting a road including cost overruns and payola that goes with it, and you’re getting an income tax to pay for it, plus a sales tax if we’re in the mood…

    How about a push poll on moving the capital out of Juneau?

    Thought so…

  6. In the end, and actually from the beginning, Alaska’s version of the Deep State will conspire to kill the Juneau road. The bureaucrats, the environmentalists and the remainder of the Left like Juneau just the way it is: Isolated, far-left, conspiratorial and stoned. They have no incentive to change things, they are making billions based on historical and current circumstances.

    I expect to die sometime in the next two decades. I will not see a road to Juneau in my lifetime. (Frankly, the same can be said for a North Slope natural gas pipeline.)

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