Why no roads to Juneau?

I was just listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR. Juneau has its first NPR station, and they talked to a guest who runs an air travel service.

Juneau is the only state capitol not accessible by car. You have to fly or float to get there. ::EdMcMahon::I did not know that.

Many mountainous areas around the world have roads, or rail. Why not Juneau? What’s so different there?

Are Juneauites okay with that? No grass roots movements to build a road to the outside?

Well, take a look at a map of Alaska. Where would the road GO to?

Here’s a topographic map of the Juneau area:

It’s all mountains, islands and glaciers. Juneau is a small town of only 30,000 people. Building a road would be incredibly expensive, and it would still be a multi-day drive from Fairbanks and Anchorage to Juneau.

Think of it as though Juneau were on an island, like Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. It would make sense to move the capital to the mainland and we almost did this back in the 80s, but the plan failed due to cost.

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneau

Juneau is hemmed in not merely by mountains but by the Juneau ice field. Map of Juneau area

Although you can build roads across mountains, it would be pretty well impossible to build one across a glacier. I’m not positive there is no way around, but at best a road through those mountains would be extremely difficult to build and probably blocked by snow more than half the year. It just wouldn’t be worth it.

Here’s a satellite image. Some of this is snow rather than glacier, but you get the idea.

Please, don’t give Ted Stevens any more ideas.

Thanks. The view with the glacier makes it very clear. Holy moley!

Checking **Lemur’s ** link indicates that any route in would be blocked by the Taku and Mendenhall Glaciers.

It’s not so much that there are mountains. In mountainous areas you can build roads in the valleys and there are always valleys and passes. Except in SE Alaska all the valleys are fjords instead and the fjords are filled with seawater. So a road link would be multiple bridges, tunnels, and blasting, a huge undertaking. All to connect one little 30,000 person town to the mainland, which would still be hundreds of miles from anywhere.

We could always build a causeway from Whittier.

Whittier is one of those funky towns that only seem to exist in Alaska. Basically the army built two huge buildings there in the 50s, then moved out. So everyone in town lives in this one high-rise apartment building in the middle of nowhere.

And it has a train tunnel bored straight through the mountains to Anchorage.

Of course, it’s also about 500 miles from Juneau. Maybe you were thinking of Haines? Haines connects up to the road network in Canada. That’s only about 100 miles from Juneau…as the crow flies.

Because Bing Crosby and Bob Hope didn’t want to do any more movies together.

It’s well known as the northern gateway to Silicon Valley - “Juneau the way to San José”

Too late! Our outgoing moron of a governor tried to push through a road from Juneau to Haines, only it really wouldn’t make it that far. Turns out, it would end somewhat short of Haines and they would have to build a ferry terminal. Turns out further that it would only really benefit a commercial mining enterprise that had contributed to his campaign. Our incoming governor put the blocks to the whole bullshit enterprise.

Well, not really. It actually connects Whittier to Portage, and it’s about 40 miles or so from Portage to Anchorage. The tunnel also now permits vehicle traffic for a toll fee of (I think) $35.

Whittier? Wow.

Beautiful location, grubby little town. We did an RV trip from Anchorage>Whittier>Cordova>Valdez>McCarthy>Anchorage a few years ago. The Cordova/Valdez destinations were by ferry. Beautiful trip.

Whittier’s an odd place. The only time I was there, it was heavily overcast and it seemed the streets were deserted and the place had an abandoned, “Soviet” feel to it.

The little town of Seward, though… I like that town.

Whittier tunnel tolls: $12 for regular cars not pulling trailers. An RV over 28ft is $35.

Since the OP has been answered, I would like to point out that technically there is a road (and a bridge) to Juneau from Douglas, AK.

Douglas is part of Juneau though it’s several miles from the center of town. It’s within the limits of the City and Borough of Juneau, as are several other settlements, like Auke Bay.

I don’t know nothin’ 'bout Alaska, but i do know that it was Johnny Carson who said “I did not know that!” in his mock-surprised voice, not Ed.