Kasaan Resident Writes Persuasive Letter in Defense of the Alaska Marine Highway - P.O.W. Report

Monday, March 4, 2019

Kasaan Resident Writes Persuasive Letter in Defense of the Alaska Marine Highway

Michael Queen, a Kasaan resident, wrote an open letter to the Alaska Legislators in defense of the Alaska Marine Highway System that "went viral" on Facebook. POW Report contacted him and asked for permission to share this with you. Before we do, THERE IS PUBLIC TESTIMONY ON THE PFD REPAYMENT AT 6 PM.

The Alaska Marine Highway System, AMHS, must stop apologizing for realizing in cold, hard cash a return to state coffers of 33% at the farebox, 46% vehicle transportation receipts, and so on. The AMHS is, in truth, the only toll road I am aware of funded by the State of Alaska. It charges ‘user fees.’ No other public highway can quantify, day in and day out, precisely how much it daily earns for Alaskans, defraying a part of the costs of its operation. Of the three essential legs of Alaskan transportation infrastructure, air, hard surface highways, and marine highways, the AMHS alone can do so.

How much did the Parks, Glenn, Seward, Sterling, Richardson, or Dalton Highways ‘make’ today? How many thousands upon thousands of people used those transportation corridors in the past few hours? How much did State operated and/or maintained airstrips ‘make’ today? How much did private pilots, air taxi operators, air freighters, etc. ante up?

Unlike the AMHS, hard surface highway and airstrip funding is not persistently, intentionally, and cynically mischaracterized by business interests, political appointees, and legislators as a ‘subsidy.’ A subsidy is, by definition, a sum of money granted by the government or a public body to assist a privately-held industry or business so that the price of a commodity or service may remain low or competitive… like farm subsidies or the State’s subsidization of the Interisland Ferry Authority.

The AMHS is a public highway, recognized and treated (and amply funded) as such by our federal government; a government from which each Alaskan receives per capita a disproportionately large share relative to the citizens of other states. It was the Southeast Conference, initially led by community interests rather than predominantly corporate ones, who approached the new State of Alaska to plead for community connections that had disappeared when private sector shipping and passenger operations abandoned coastal Alaska as their profit margins failed to satisfy owners and shareholders.

Only the less than civic or public minded, the self-interested, and/or those with politically driven economic agendas stoop to lessen, demean its essential status in Alaska’s vital infrastructure. Private entities would profit themselves at the expense of public citizenry. They are those who would snatch from every Alaska citizen’s stakeholdership, along with their concomitant public oversight, a highway that connects in safety families, communities, tourists, traveling military, patients and medical facilities, school teams, and hundreds of Alaskan businesses, to name but a few, every single day of the year… rain, snow, or shine, storm or calm, summer or winter, and has for well over half a century.

Perhaps it is time to implement user fees or tolls for Alaska’s hard surface highways, and airports. Tolls and user fees are fair to all, in that no one is exempt when they take advantage of state infrastructure to drive from one point to another, or take off and land their aircraft. In state or out of state residency is irrelevant. Citizenship here or there is of no consequence whatsoever. All users equally pay a part of the costs for the maintenance, snow removal, construction, etc. of what they use. After all, fair is fair.


Michael Queen
Kasaan, Alaska

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.”
Isak Dinesen

Read More: Over Sized PFD Payments Will Harm Alaska...LOL

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