Skip to comments."Bridges to Nowhere" is a cute, meaningless sound bite
Posted on 11/16/2005 3:56:13 PM PST by redpoll
I've had it with the phrase "Bridges to Nowhere." Someone has to speak up for Alaskans.
I've lived in Ketchikan and the Mat-Su valley, two of the places next to "nowhere." Ketchikan is a thin strip of roadway on a mountain cliff next to the ocean. The bridge would connect Ketchikan to the island next door, which has many square miles of flat land that could be developed for the benefit of the community. The Knik Arm bridge connects Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, with the Mat-Su valley, Alaska's fastest growing community. Calling the Knik Arm bridge a bridge to "nowhere" is either stupidity or willful disregard of the facts.
Do these places deserve more roads? Look at a map of Alaska. Look at the towns. Now look at the roads connecting them. Most of the state has no roads at all. The village where I'm typing this is 280 miles from the nearest road. As a result, a trip to Wal-Mart costs me $500 on a small plane to Fairbanks. A gallon of milk costs $12 at the local grocery store. Gas is running at $4.20 a gallon. A road between my village and Fairbanks would radically reduce the cost of living, as well as help connect us to the rest of the economy of North America. Of course, building the road would mean a road to "nowhere."
The critics of the bridges have their arguments backwards. Gravina Island, located next to Ketchikan, has 50 residents because the only way to get there right now is by boat. Since there is no infrastructure, there are no residents. You need to build the infrastructure first to get the residents. The Knik Arm bridge will connect a relatively unpopulated section of the Mat-Su valley to Anchorage; it will also turn a 60-minute commute from Wasilla into a 20-minute drive. You don't often find commuters "nowhere."
There is a long tradition in this country of building infrastructure with government funding to boost local economies. The Cumberland Road went "nowhere" at first. The railroads in the 19th century went through vast expanses of "nowhere." The Golden Gate bridge connected San Francisco to "nowhere," the undeveloped sections of Marin County. The Mackinac Straits bridge went from lower Michigan to "nowhere." A lot of the interstate highway system goes "nowhere."
Sure, there are boondoggles, from the C and O Canal to the poorly built dikes around New Orleans. On the other hand, there's Hoover Dam and the George Washington Bridge. A good argument could be made that one of the things that government does well is build infrastructure; certainly the founders had that in mind when one of the specific duties of government was the construction of "post roads" and other infrastructure to help commerce.
It would help Ketchikan to have a bridge connecting that city to Gravina Island. It would help Southeast to have a road connecting most of the towns there, too. It would help Alaska to have roads connecting Nome and Bethel and Barrow to Fairbanks, too. (The Knik Arm bridge would cut one hour off the trip between Anchorage and Fairbanks.)
Of course, if nothing is done, no roads are build, no bridges allowed to connect our communities with the rest of the state, most of the state will remain "nowhere." Villages will languish in poverty. Economies will have nowhere to grow. Notice that the first thing that they had to do when oil was developed at Prudhoe Bay was build a road. The road went "nowhere" until the trucks rolled up the road, built the pipeline, and put in the oil derricks.
These are not "bridges to nowhere." They're a needed part of the development of the state. We could argue about cost and design, certainly, but the need for more roads, bridges, and infrastructure here is obvious.
Grow up. If you want a bridge to connect you to Anchorage, get Alaska to pay for it. It isn't New York's job to pay for your infrastructure. I still pay tolls on my bridges and highways.
Should first be a toll ferry paid by users. If growth indicates the need for a bridge, make it a toll bridge paid for by the users. The Causeway and Crescent City Connection in New Orleans are both structures built and paid for with toll fares, plus we have toll ferries up and down the river.
It still does.
If I'm remembering correctly, this money was from the federal portion of Alaska's gasoline tax and as transportation money couldn't be spent on other budget items.
redpoll, is that even close to being correct? :)
Remote villages don't stay that way once they are part of the larger economy. I agree with you about paying tolls, too. However, the taxes from Alaskan oil DO pay for your roads and bridges, in part. We're all Americans.
Yeah, I think it was specially earmarked for that purpose.
Need em so bad? Try tapping into that 30 BILLION pile of dough Alaska is sitting on.
"We're all Americans."
And platitudes make pork alright!
Sounds like an issue for Alaskans. Let me know how it works out, but don't ask me to pay for it.
No arguments here - now we're talking about what the infrastructure should be. Make it available. Ferry, drawbridge, causeway, toll bridge - all these are good ideas. Development and economic growth are generally good for people, and you need infrastructure to do it.
"Try tapping into that 30 BILLION pile of dough Alaska is sitting on."
Doesn't every man, woman, and child resident in Alaska get a check from the state government every year (from oil and gas royalties, I believe)?
LOL! That is very good.
You know, things would be realy great if we could connect all the islands in hawaii to each other. And then connect hawaii to the mainland US.
After all, we're all americans, so we should spend countless millions of dollars to connect all these places so they too can have proper economic development.
What the heck, is this DU now???
wow, you're easily convinced.
So should every remote village get $250 million in taxpayer funds, or are you special?
It still does.
Without federal funds.
Yes they do:
$658 million in 2003. They could build a bunch of bridges to nowhere if they wanted to - if it really was so vital to the economic development of their state, they would.
Instead, they want everyone else to pay for it.
The environmentalists share a lot of the blame for keeping our state unroaded. They want to see me living in "untouched wilderness" or some such crap. It hasn't been untouched since the ancestors of the Athabascans got here 15,000 years ago. On the other hand - why the hell couldn't they have just built a small drawbridge across the Narrows? I liked that idea of a toll ferry like they have in Puget Sound, too. One of the reasons why I think these bridges have gotten so much grief is the imperial overreach of Don Young and Ted Stevens.
well, "we're all americans", but alaska is special because oil is pumped there. So it deserves this.
But remember, "we're all americans".
So move already, whiner!
So never, ever complain about congressional spending or pork again.
Anyone defending this boondoggle has lost the right to ever complain about wasteful goverment spending in the future. It is beyond comprehension.
"Need em so bad? Try tapping into that 30 BILLION pile of dough Alaska is sitting on"
I hope you're talking about the ANWAR oil reserve. We'd LOVE to tap into that if the lower 48 would LET US! How'd you like to live in a State where President Carter put 79% of your state into one big National Park Reserve!!! We don't have roads between our villages because most of the inbetween is parks. What percentage of the population of the lower 48, let alone the WORLD will ever see ANWAR? I've seen it. A huge muskeg. That's swamp for those of you who don't know.
Alaskan oil is hardly the majority of America's oil. Around here, most of our gasoline comes from Canadian crude.
Yes we do. A small portion of the State's Permanent Fund is invested in the stock market and we share the profits (and loss.) World bankers wish they had thought of that with the Federal Budgets.
OK! Then, I will continue to blame environmentalists for keeping out the roads.
Honestly, I fail to grasp how keeping people out completely "protects" anything. I love the outdoors, but the shear size of the expanses there make it nearly impossible to get out to appreciate such a great natural resource, even for a "low impact" hiker like myself.
And you point is valid if in fact the bridge is opening up a large chunk of prime land that is now unusable...after all New Orleans and a good part of the gulf coast is nowhere right now it unusable land until the infrastructure is built/rebuilt
Built a bridge to prime land is far more logical that building a levy around a swamp to keep it dry or building bridge and roads and orher public infrastructure below what is hurricane storm surge line
You are nuts if you think that the IRS should take my tax dollars at gunpoint so 50 of your state citizens can have a bridge to get off their island.
I don't mind Alaska getting its share of the federal pie ( though I'd prefer if we just did away with the federal pie entirely ). But its going to have to have some purpose. For that kind of capital investment of my tax dollars I demand a better return that 50 people being happy about it.
Redpoll: Vote in Sara Pahlen. She'll get the roads built. I'm with you re: the environmentalist. If they would leave us alone in Alaska, we'd build our roads with all the money going to keeping the state one big national park. People down south just can not comprehend Alaska is three times the size of Texas and a state the size of Massechusetts has 100 times more roads than us. Multiply Texas 3 times and give them three roads.
"though I'd prefer if we just did away with the federal pie entirely "
That's the conservative position, but too often it is lost around here.
Instead of saying "why is the government taking my tax money on gas and then making me beg for it back?", people are asking "why can't we have our pork, too? Damn it, we can come up with agood reason for it! If we spend $250 million, it might produce an extra $2 million a year in economic activity!!!"
I think people really need to re-examine what they believe in and get back to the basics, instead of arguing about how THIS pork or THAT pork is justifiable because "gee, we really could use it!".
Most Alaskas do not want the Federal Pork that we get. What we would prefer is to allow us to develop our natural resources. If we could log our trees, fish our fish, hunt our game, use our coal, dig the gold and iron and drill our OIL, we would never need a dime of Federal money. Its EXACTLY why congress allways gives Alaska so much. They are BUYING the priviledge of keeping the entire state one big park that we can't develop. So, THAT's why our tiny little population can't support ourselves. The environmentalist and congress won't let us develop our resources!
It seem everyone here is falling for this "Bridge to nowhere" line. It is so easy to lie with statistics. Any statistic about Alaska can be made to look very bad if you divide by population. Try looking at spending per mile of coastline and reality is put into perspective (Alaska has 6 times the coastline of the lower 48 states) we come out dead last when it come to federal spending on ports, bridges, and harbors. This trick has been used by the liberals for years to make a good conservative like Senator Stevens look like a pork monger.
Another frequently used trick is to compare federal spending with " income tax revenue", where it is easy to show that the feds spend a lot more than comes in from "taxes" due to the tiny population here. It is easy to conveniently ignore the millions upon millions of dollars in natural resource revenues (technically not taxes in libspeak) from the oil, mining and fishing industries. (Federal leasing fees from ANWR alone are projected to be 2.6 BILLION dollars from the 90% federal share).
Most Alaskans are used to this. We have our own "Hate Stevens" crowd of liberals here, kind of a subset of the hate Bush/Hate America type that would love nothing better than to see Stevens replaced with a liberal like Tony Knowles.
Even if you don,t believe me take heart, the envirowackos and their New York lawyers will be on this project like flies on feces and the likely-hood is that it will be shut down for "environmental" reasons (we might have the audacity to develop some of the "pristine wilderness" on Gravinia island). and we will spend millions (of state money) to fight it. and as in most cases where we try to develop things here, loose.
Let the Alaskans develop their land and resources (and keep the revenue) and there would no need for any federal spending here.
Pay for your own bridges. And Boston should pay for their own whole in the ground. All pork is wasteful crap.
I don't my state taking it either. If we, as citizens of my state, decide we want something we should raise the money ourselves or do without.
"Let the Alaskans develop their land and resources (and keep the revenue) and there would no need for any federal spending here."
Well... there's two of us with that vote!
Also, why don't you just spend your state's one year payoff of oil royalties given to every citizen? It's the cost of the bridge.
You do know that the Mackinac Bridge was financed entirely in the private bond market and that it operates at a profit, don't you?
Because we need it to pay for our $4.00 per gal fuel costs. What is your auto fuel costing these days?
"Let the Alaskans develop their land and resources (and keep the revenue) and there would no need for any federal spending here. "
Then fight for that, instead of defending the indefensible.
It was $3.25 until a few weeks ago.
Start voting for Dems...you whine just like one.
You're just an easy target. Have no doubt that the people who are criticizing you on this thread are represented by people who are bringing home pork to their districts as well.
Isn't there a cheaper way to do it than to build a $250 million bridge?
I didn't realize you were forced to live in alaska.
Apparently they are the only state that doesn't allow its citizens to leave and go to a place with cheaper gas and more roads. Instead they are forced to complain that they're not getting enough pork spending.
"cheaper" doesn't buy enough votes!
Acquiring Alaska was a strategic move for an earlier time when foot soldiers were a greater threat; later, the natural resources proved to be of considerable value so development followed along the cost/benefit trail.
Now, we're stuck with a vocal set of freeloaders represented by some relocated professional politicians dreaming of sunshine while apparently addicted to moonshine; the place ain't livable, give it up, already. :)