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?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.