Support for Alaska’s ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ Collapses

Published January 1, 2008

Alaska officials have dropped their fight to build the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” a proposed project that millions of Americans viewed as a symbol of political pork-barrel spending at its worst.

The late-September announcement by Gov. Sarah Palin (R) represented a big victory for advocates of fiscal responsibility in state and federal government. The project would have involved building a bridge nearly as long as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to link the city of Ketchikan and Gravina Island, home to the local airport and about 50 permanent residents. A seven-minute ferry ride now takes passengers from the island to the mainland and back.

Outrage Killed Project

“The death of the Alaska Bridge to Nowhere is a testament to the power of grassroots activism,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, one of several national organizations that helped stir opposition. “Citizen outrage against hard-earned tax dollars being wasted on questionable pet projects delivered this victory for taxpayers.”

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) two years ago championed a $231 million earmark for the bridge, which had a price tag of $400 million. State and local lawmakers staunchly defended the earmark in the face of withering criticism from tax watchdog groups and some U.S. lawmakers, led by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

“The Bridge to Nowhere was the poster child of Congressional excess, and hopefully its demise will be the harbinger of greater restraint and transparency in federal budgeting,” said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, in a statement.

Steve Stanek