Bridge to Nowhere

I listened to Governor Sarah Palin give her acceptance speech for the Republican Vice Presidential candidate and was very impressed. I was watching on GPB TV and at the end of her speech Mark Shields made a comment that she had not told the truth about the Bridge to Nowhere. This disturbed me and I did some research on the subject.

Mark Shields stated that Sarah did not return the money for the Bridge but keep it. He obviously did not listen closely to her speech, the money mentioned was in the very next sentence and referred to income from oil and gas.

Sara Palin in her speech said:

“I told the Congress “thanks, but no thanks,” for that Bridge to Nowhere.

If our state wanted a bridge, we’d build it ourselves. When oil and gas prices went up dramatically, and filled up the state treasury, I sent a large share of that revenue back where it belonged – directly to the people of Alaska.”

In the first session of the 109th Congress H.R.3, earmarked $18,750,000 per fiscal year for the construction of the Ralph M. Bartholomew Veterans’ Memorial Bridge with the total cost estimated in the bill at $100,000,000.

H. R. 3058 later changed the earmark for two bridge projects in Alaska, #406, the Gravina Island bridge to be know as the Ralph M. Bartholomew Veterans’ Memorial Bridge and #2465, the Knik Am bridge to be made available to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities for any eligible purpose.

The 2007 estimate for the cost of the bridge was $398 million and was cancelled by the then Governor Sarah Palin. The approximately $36 million in federal funds would be spent on other transportation projects.

It is easy to see why the residents of Ketchikan want a bridge over the 2500 foot Tongass Narrows (1500 foot from the Ketchikan-Wrangell Ferry landing) to the International Airport on Gravina Island. The shore line of Ketchikan is very narrow with very little room to expand. Gravina Island on the other hand, has a much wider and gradual sloping shore line and is the reason that the Ketchikan International Airport was built there. The only existing road is from the ferry landing to the terminal. Ketchikan, now well over 8,000 and growing from tourism and fishing has run out of room.

We can thank Ketchikan and their so call Bridge to Nowhere for bringing Sara Palin to the National forefront. Had it not been for the debate over the bridge and Governor Palin halting the work on the bridge, John McCain may have not come to know her. I hope that Ketchikan will eventually get their much needed bridge even if it is a less costly one. Maybe an old fashion draw bridge would be the answer.