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Ketchikan has seen better days when it comes to the state Legislature.

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Hazel Lydia Snapp, 70, died Nov. 17, 2014, in Seattle.
9/17/2013
Dangerous viewing

It's only a matter of time before someone is hurt while watching for bears on South Tongass Highway at Herring Cove.

Tourists and locals are drawn to the highway's bridge where it gives them a wide open space to watch for bears.

The problem begins with Herring Cove visitors walking back and forth across the bridge while traffic is coming and going. It is especially harrowing for a driver when children are in the mix; children often aren't aware of anything but what they have their minds on — bears. Adults — most of them anyway — will back up against the railing to allow vehicles to pass. Of course, there's always the exception.

The bridge doesn't have a sidewalk, which leaves pedestrians intermingling too closely with vehicles.

Parking also is part of the problem. There isn't any place on the bridge to pull over, and if one does, authorities will nudge one along. Drivers park where they can, including in front of private homes.

Apparently, everyone isn't respectful of private property, either. Or of the public areas, where some fishermen in the cove leave fish guts on the rocks. Litter tends to be strewn about the cove as well.

This clearly is an area that needs some control. It is well that the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly has had its Planning Department studying the problem. The interest in the cove has increased over the years; the problem has intensified.

The Borough Assembly is addressing it, considering parking, walkways and viewing platforms. Whatever comes of it, it's likely to increase safety for drivers as well as fishermen and bear viewers.

Their actions can be expected to increase the well-being of those living and passing through the cove.