Southeast Alaska leaders back ferry changes

Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2002

CRAIG (AP) -- The Southeast Conference has gone on record supporting a restructuring of the management of the Alaska Marine Highway System, but the group isn't backing any particular option.

The regional organization was formed more than 40 years ago to encourage the development of a state ferry system. After reviewing a proposal for ''an authority or similar structure,'' the group backed a resolution calling for ''a more effective structure'' to manage and operate the ferry system. The Southeast Conference is planning an in-depth study of management options.

Murray Walsh of Juneau, co-chairman of the conference's Transportation Committee, said the main goal was improved ferry service.

''A lot of us believe that in order to get the service we want, we are going to have to form an authority or something like it,'' he said. ''But an ordinary person doesn't care who is in charge; they just want the service to be better.''

Conference members discussed management structures that included something like the state Board of Fisheries, a port authority with a board of directors, or a more formal community-input process.

In other action, the conference approved a resolution supporting continued financing and implementation of a highway connecting the Wrangell area to Canada via the Bradfield Canal.

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