Story last updated at 4:06 p.m. Thursday, October 24, 2002

Road best way to beat capital move for good
Along with some familiar names on the November general election ballot will be a familiar question -- should the state Legislature be relocated? Alaska voters have seen this initiative appear, in one form or another, five times since statehood. Of the five times it has come to a vote, it has been rejected, essentially, every time. The one time a capital move was approved -- in 1974 -- it was effectively killed four years later when voters overwhelmingly refused to approve the nearly $1 billion cost of the relocation.

In addition to the five ballot initiatives, the capital move issue has been raised even more regularly on the floor of the Legislature. Why it continues to surface against such consistent and unqualified rejection is a mystery, especially considering the far more pressing issues facing the Legislature in recent years.

Perhaps a "no more relocation initiatives" ballot measure would be more appropriate. But in the absence of one, yet another "no" vote is in order for this question -- and for most of the same reasons as in the past.

A state that has yet to find a way to bridge a fiscal gap that is nearing crisis proportions has no business even considering spending the kind of money it would take to relocate the capital. Such a move would be a double-edged sword, robbing taxpayers to fund the project while driving an economic stake into the heart of Juneau and Southeast Alaska.

Supporters of the measure tout the capital's inaccessibility as a prime reason for moving it. But in these days of phones, faxes, public opinion messages, e-mail and teleconferencing, being in touch with legislators has never been more convenient.

Foolish as it is that this question keeps appearing, it is equally foolish that more than a million dollars gets spent on each anti-capital move campaign. Juneau residents, who have the most to lose from a capital move, could do more to improve their situation. Since accessibility has traditionally been the prime motivator for this recurring initiative, making Juneau easier to get to is the most obvious means of preventing it from appearing again.

Few Juneau residents advocate moving the capital. Unfortunately, too few are advocating a road, built mostly with federal money, up Lynn Canal to Skagway or Haines, where Juneau could be connected to the road system. They fear the influx of car traffic and the effect it might have on their beautiful city.

But it's the 21st century, after all. No ferry, no matter how fast, will ever take the place of a road, the benefits of which would far outweigh whatever negatives may drive into town on one. Build it, and they will come -- for better or worse. But the capital will never go.