Gravina Island Bridge

Hearing about it everywhere (e.g. NPR) and remembering hearing about it everywhere a couple years or so ago, I got curious about the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska. My first stop was this article. So somewhere pre autumn 2005, there were plans to build a bridge in Alaska that would connect the mainland with an island, Gravina Island, then only accessible by ferry, because on the island is Alaska’s 2nd largest airport. Hmm, sounds reasonable, right ? Granted, $400 million isn’t cheap. But it sounds like any large,non-critical government spending item. Even Obama and Biden voted for it.

Then, after Hurricane Katrina, it appears there were motions to redirect the allocated money to post-Katrina efforts. That’s when the recently indicted senator from Alaska Stevens threw a bit of a fit, and Congress acted anyway… well, sort of. They “deleted” the earmark but left the funds for it to Alaska to spend. Sounds mean to me. “You can’t build your bridge but here is a few hundred million dollars you can spend instead.”

So what about Governor Palin ? She was for the bridge in the beginning, and after Congress pulled the plug on the earmark in 2005, till she decided there were better uses for the money and killed the project in 2007. The crazy thing, the way I understand it, is that Alaska did get the money and must have spent it.

So, here are a few interesting notes:

In this Alaska DOT document, dated Sept 2007, Palin sounds like she really regrets the fact Congress wouldn’t fund the bridge.

In this CNN article, McCain is quoted saying that instead of funding some stupid bridge in Alaska, the money should go to maintaing about-to-collapse bridges in Minnesota.

So, to make a long story short, I can’t imagine that this piece of pork barrel is worse than most. But the fact that Palin now claims to have been the anti-pork champion is ridiculous, and she should get hammered for it.

Rather than wonder about this bridge though, I’d be much more interested in Palin’s relationship with her “Congressional Delegation”, i.e. Senator Stevens and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young. Considering the size of her state and the extent of Stevens corruption, it’s unlikely the governor wasn’t a little involved.


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