by Lorien Nettleton ~ June 26th, 2012
The winter route from Talkeetna to Trapper Creek and beyond to the gold fields of Petersville still sees use, but one Trapper Creek resident has an idea that he says would boost both communities by linking them by road.
Paul Thomas has approached the Mat Su Borough with the idea of building a suspension bridge from Talkeetna to Trapper Creek. The two communities are four miles apart, he says, and the time and gas savings for anyone traveling between the two communities would make the bridge worthwhile.
While he was putting together his proposal, Thomas used his wife’s driving habits as a reference. According to Thomas, his wife makes the 60 mile round-trip every day, commuting to Talkeetna from Trapper Creek for work. Based on her gas expenses alone, Thomas says the bridge would make economic sense in no time at all.
Part of Thomas’s plan calls for using inmates of Alaska’s correctional facilities as labor. By putting inmates to work, he says, the bridge could be built economically, and the inmates themselves would have a hand in improving their own lives.
A suspension bridge between Talkeetna and Trapper Creek is still just an idea, but Thomas says he’s looking to start a dialogue about the possibility of making the dream a reality.
According to Dept. of Corrections INformation Officer Richard SMith says there are several considerations that must be met before contracting inmates to work. The foremost consideration is a requirement that the inmates be classified as minimum custody – a population Smith says there aren’t a lot of. The inmates also couldn’t be contracted if their low labor rates would conflict with any Unions or contractors who would otherwise be getting the work.
Currently, the sole prison industry is in Juneau, where inmates work for a commercial laundry service.