Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau Senator Jesse Kiehl is sounding off over the management of the Marine Highway System. "I have been so frustrated to the point of getting angry about the state of our ferry system. There's no reason to not have a single vessel running except Metlakatla to Ketchikan.
Kiehl explained that the Columbia has its certificate and is in good shape. He said the state took the lifeboats off to be serviced. If they had waited on that Kiehl said there would have been a backup vessel able to run the mainline to Bellingham with the Matanuska stuck in Auke Bay if its warranty work.
"With ten vessels capable of running up and down inside waters, they put nine of them out of commission at the same time in the winter. You know there comes a point where I think we need to see accountability for a choice like that." He added that there should have been a contingency in place.
The Southeast Conference has called for the creation of an independent authority to manage the system. Senator Kiehl thinks such an entity would make more prudent decisions. "I think they could. I think a public board with long terms on panel, with some authority over the budget, hiring and firing of management could really bring more expertise, could bring more stability and they could bring oversight of this kind of decision and say, 'hang on a minute, what's our backup plan.'" Kiehl added that some of these decisions are incomprehensible.