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Rep. Stutes: ‘For many families, the ferry system provides the only access to medical care’
KODIAK – Rep. Louise Stutes, co-chair of the House Transportation Committee, Wednesday released a statement correcting an inaccurate claim from a senior Dunleavy Administration official who told a reporter that depriving communities of winter access to the Alaska Marine Highway System is simply an inconvenience.
“I was appalled by the recent comments of DOT Commissioner John MacKinnon as reported by Alaska’s Energy Desk.
Winter ferry service is not a matter of ‘convenience’ for any of the communities I represent. Particularly in communities like Cordova, which is facing a 7-month gap, the impact on health, life, and public safety will be heavily felt.
Aside from the direct impact on businesses and the economy, which is a clear contributor to the health and public safety of any community, many cannot afford the price of regular airfare. For these families, the ferry system provides the only access to medical care, basic healthcare products, affordable food and household necessities, and any number of things that communities need.
This past session, the public testified in support of maintaining ferry service in record setting numbers. It is disheartening to hear that at the end of this public process and with communities about to lose their only highway all winter, the head of DOT views ferry service as a matter of convenience.”
Commissioner MacKinnon’s full remark to the reporter was, “When we reduce maintenance to our highways, that’s a direct health, life, public safety issue. When we reduce ferry service, it’s a matter of convenience.”