Commentary: No time for a road to Nome

This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.

Some Americans are scrambling to find work, keep their homes and shore up retirement accounts. Some Alaskans are having visions.

The road to Nome is one of them. And Gov. Sarah Palin is one of the visionaries.

In an echo of "Open the West," the governor and some lawmakers are dreaming of a connection to Nome on the Bering Sea, from maybe somewhere north of the Yukon. The road would open the way to more oil and gas development, mining and tourism.

Does a road to Nome fire up the imagination, could we imagine a wonderful trip from Anchorage to Front Street? No question. Can anyone rule it out forever? No. Has Alaska forever stopped building roads to new places? No.

But before we get dreamy about taking that June drive no traveler has taken before – or dreamy about mining prospects that may or may not pan out, Alaskans must deal with practical considerations.

At $3 million to $4 million a mile, just how would we pay for this 500-mile project? It would consume upwards of $2 billion – money that can't be spent on better schools, better police protection, a stronger university, better maintenance of the roads we already have. And for what gain? Where is the $2 billion of benefit to Alaskans?

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.