April 24, 2004

Alaska's bridge to nowhere.

Visualize a double span, rising to 200 feet above ocean level, going from Ketchikan, Alaska (pop. 14,500) to Gravina Island (pop. 50 on a good day). The only thing of note on the island is Ketchikan's airport, which has six passenger flights most days. Maybe a few more during the summer. The ferries between Ketchikan and the airport run half-filled. And Ketchikan isn't even connected to the North American road system; if you go more than 10 miles from town, you run out of road.

So why does Ketchikan, Alaska need such a huge bridge?

Because Alaska's one lone (Republican) member of the the lower house of Congress, Representative Don Young wants it built. And since Young chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he's in an excellent position to get what he wants. Despite it's US $200 million pricetag, Young's 'bridge to nowhere' has remained in the transporation appropriation bill currently working its way through the Congress, even though the project makes no economic sense and is being proposed at a time when the country faces a massive federal deficit.

"This really is a bridge to nowhere," said Keith Ashdown, a spokesman for the conservative budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Mr Ashdown says the Bush administration is the most fiscally irresponsible in history. "You can't have tax cuts, a war, and all the other legislative plans and then think we won't bust the budgetary dam," he said. [...]

[Ketchikan Borough] mayor, Michael Salazar, argues that the bridge will open up the town to investment, enhance its attraction as a stop-off for cruises on the increasingly popular Alaskan tourist trail, and could be its saviour.

He said: "The environmental lobby always bitches if you change anything. But they probably said the same about the Golden Gate Bridge. Your first impression is 'look how beautiful it is here' and 'won't the bridge spoil the view' but what we need to continue our existence is jobs."

We can hardly wait to see Rep. Young's proposal to build a freeway from Ketchikan to Prince Rupert, British Columbia (pop. 17,000), the closest town connected to the North American road grid. It would only have to cross seven or eight ocean inlets in 100 miles or so. At US $200 million a bridge plus 100 miles of road, just imagine how many jobs the project would create. And don't worry about the cost: our kids will pay for it.

Via UK Telegraph.

Posted by Magpie at April 24, 2004 07:38 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |