Friday, February 23, 2007

Bridge to Nowhere Update

Cost of Alaskan Bridge Goes Up by $67 Million; Bridge Itself Still Goes to Nowhere:
The Bridge to Nowhere is back. Last week, the Alaska Department of Transportation announced that inflation and increases in the cost of materials would push the final price tag on the Gravina Island bridge project up to an astonishing $395 million — that’s $29,737 per resident of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. According to the Associated Press, Borough Mayor Joe Williams called the $395 million “a lot of money,” but said he will continue to push to get the project funded.

This year, Williams and other advocates for the project are facing an even more hostile environment than the one they faced in 2005, when conservatives in Congress successfully stripped a $223 million earmark for the bridge out of that year’s fiscally disastrous transportation bill (the money still went to Alaska, but the state spent most of it on other priorities). Gov. Frank Murkowski, a shameless proponent of numerous wasteful transportation boondoggles, is gone, soundly beaten in last year’s primary by solidly conservative (and ridiculously good-looking) Republican Sarah Palin. “This projected increase [in the bridge’s cost] comes at a time when the governor has asked for all agencies to reduce spending by 10 percent,” a spokesman for the governor tells National Review Online. Needless to say, building a half-billion-dollar bridge between a town of 8,000 and an island of 50 is not on her list of state transportation priorities.

What’s more, the state’s congressional porkers — Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens — are no longer committee chairs, having joined the rest of the GOP in the minority on Capitol Hill. It was Young who, as then-chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, authored the Bridge to Nowhere earmark in 2005 — back when the bridge only cost $328 million. Thanks in part to this kind of brazen excess, which disgusted independents and infuriated conservatives, Young doesn’t have that kind of clout anymore.

That leaves the Alaska DOT stuck between the local officials who want the bridge and a governor who hasn’t set aside any money for it. Add a congressional delegation unable to bring home the bacon like it used to and it’s no surprise that morale at the department has cratered. According to the AP, Gov. Palin’s transition team discovered a department in which obtaining “federal earmarks in congressional appropriations trump all other priorities… and the state suffers as a result.” The team’s advice? Alaska needs to go on a diet from federal dollars and focus on “developing a state-funded transportation and maintenance program.” Music to the ears of the lower 48, which have supported Alaska’s pork habit for too long.


Anonymous LarryK said...

The Republican Liberty Caucus seriously needs to get a STRONG libertarian presence back into the congress. That is an impressive stand by Gov Palin. And you're right... she's downright attractive.

February 23, 2007 at 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Eric Dondero said...

I worked for a few days as a volunteer on Sarah Palin's Campaign. In fact, my Libertarian Party friends in Anchorage endorsed her and waved signs for her the last two days of the election. Up close and in person, she's a very nice lady.

We cover "Gov. Sarah" on a regular basis over at Simply put, she represents that absolute BEST of the Libertarian Republican movement.

It's a real shame Libertarians nationwide have ignored her.

Eric Dondero, CEO

February 23, 2007 at 9:12 PM  

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