Alaskan Bridge Project, 'Bridge to Nowhere,' Gets Dumped
JUNEAU, Alaska – The state of Alaska on Friday officially abandoned the "bridge to nowhere" project that became a nationwide symbol of federal pork-barrel spending.
The $398 million bridge would have connected Ketchikan, on one island in southeastern Alaska, to its airport on another nearby island.
"Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer," Gov. Sarah Palin said in a statement.
She directed the state transportation department to find the most "fiscally responsible" alternative for access to the airport.
Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young championed the project through Congress two years ago, securing more than $200 million for the bridge between Ketchikan, on Revillagigedo Island, and Gravina Island.
Under mounting political pressure over pork projects, Congress stripped the earmark — or stipulation — that the money be used for the airport, but still sent the money to the state for any use it deemed appropriate.
The state took much of that for other projects, and Palin on Friday said the Ketchikan project was $329 million short of full funding.
"It's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island," Palin said.
"Much of the public's attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened," she said.
Palin, a Republican, won the Alaska governorship last fall after defeating Gov. Frank Murkowski in the GOP primary. Stevens and Young are also Republicans.