Congressman Don Young joins ribbon cutting ceremony for Whittier’s Shotgun Cove Road
Ken Smith/Turnagain Times
Congressman Don Young cuts the ceremonial ribbon with Whittier Mayor Lester Lunceford marking the end of the second phase of the Shotgun Cove Road project.
Ken Smith/Turnagain Times
Whittier Mayor Lester Lunceford presents Rep. Don Young with a plaque honoring his late wife Lu. A new sign naming a park at Smitty’s Cove “Lu Young Park” was also unveiled.
By Ken Smith
Congressman Don Young participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, July 20, in Whittier to celebrate the completion of the second phase of Shotgun Cove Road.
Approximately two miles of a steep mountainside was blasted away to allow crews to construct a dirt road. The next step is to pave the road, which would add about four miles to the two miles of paved road completed in 2007, along with two small bridges that were built over creeks.
The goal is to build a 12-mile road all the way to Shotgun Cove, allowing for residential development in a community strapped for developable land. It would also open up prime real estate along Prince William Sound.
The first phase of construction began in 2005 for what has become an extremely expensive project. The first two phases of the project cost $18 million.
Young was approached by Whittier Mayor Lester Lunceford to acquire federal funding for the project, which the congressman was able to do when he was the chair of the Transportation Committee.
“I was able to get money for the project, and now we’ve got to get money for paving,” Young told the Times. “Opening up Shotgun Cove is very important for Whittier and the state so people can build homes.”
Mayor Lunceford, who spent many days visiting Washington D.C. and Rep. Young’s office to petition for funding for the project, said without Young’s support there wouldn’t be a road.
“If it wasn’t for Congressman Young, we wouldn’t be here today,” he told the small crowd that gathered at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
However, the work is not done, he said, and more funding is needed to complete paving of the road—approximately $6 million.
“We just received some state funding for some paving,” Lunceford told the Times, but we need more. When asked when lots along the road will be sold, he replied, “Property will be sold, but not now.”
During his visits to the nation’s capitol, Lunceford said Congressman Young’s late wife, Lu, always greeted him. He said she went out of her way to make him feel at home and was always a strong advocate to help Whittier. It was this commitment to Whittier that led the mayor to approach the city council to dedicate a park at Smitty’s Cove in honor of Lu Young, who passed away Aug. 2, 2009 at 67 years of age.
The mayor walked Rep. Young over to the road sign for Shotgun Cove at the entrance to the park at Smitty’s Cove. Above the road sign was another sign covered in a brown cloth. The mayor then read from a plaque dedicated to Lu Young and handed it to Rep. Young.
The congressman was obviously surprised and moved by the dedication as he wiped away tears and spoke to the crowd.
“Very rarely can you surprise me, but this was a total surprise,” he said. “She believed in the small communities in this state and Whittier. I will cherish this plaque and put it on my wall in my office.”
Mayor Lunceford then pulled the cloth off the covered sign, revealing the new name for the park “Lu Young Park,” which brought applause from the crowd and a proud smile from Rep. Young as he shook the mayor’s hand.
As for the future of Shotgun Cove, when asked by the Times if he could get any more federal money for the project given that congress was meeting that same week and deliberating over major cuts in federal funding and raising the debt ceiling, Rep. Young responded simply, “I’m going to try to get money for the project.”
He then got in his car to drive to another event that same day in Girdwood, a fundraiser for his late wife’s charity the “Lu Young Fund for Children of Families Fighting Cancer.”