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Shuler's(D) election means end of quest to finish 'Road to Nowhere'
Fayetteville Observer, AP ^ | November 18, 2006

Posted on 11/18/2006 5:43:33 PM PST by Dane

Shuler's election means end of quest to finish 'Road to Nowhere'

The Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C.

After an election that removed its chief backer from the halls of Congress, the Road to Nowhere may once and for all be going nowhere.

Heath Shuler, an incoming Democratic congressman who will represent far western North Carolina, opposes spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build the road through an undeveloped section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The road would be a replacement for a state highway flooded by construction of Fontana Dam in the 1940s.

And that likely means the end of a project that was backed by Rep. Charles Taylor, the powerful Republican incumbent Shuler ousted earlier this month.

"We've said from the very beginning that we think the road has the appropriate name," Shuler told The Associated Press. "We don't need to build that road. The appropriation to build that road is now a dead issue."

The issue is near to Shuler's heart. He grew up in Bryson City, at the eastern end of the planned road, which would to follow the north shore of Fontana Lake. A 1943 agreement between North Carolina and the federal government included a promise to build it, provided Congress appropriated the money.

Only seven of 42 miles were completed before high costs and environmental concerns halted construction in 1972. Supporters of the road have continued to lobby for its completion, saying it would give residents forced out by construction of the dam access to family cemeteries and homesteads. The National Park Service now pays to transport those people across Fontana Lake by boat for their annual cemetery decoration days.

"Heath Shuler should be ashamed of himself," said Linda Hogue, a leader in the North Shore Road Association and an organizer of the boat trips. Hogue said she hopes a National Park Service study of whether to finish the road will continue despite Shuler's opposition.

"I hope Mr. Shuler is not as powerful as he thinks he is," she said. "I hope that someone in Washington can hold the line. It's only fair to let the process play out."

Taylor, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, revived conversation about the road in 2000, when he included $16 million to resume construction in the federal budget. That kicked off a lengthy study conducted by the National Park Service, which has included multiple public hearings and issued a draft environmental impact report early this year.

The report identified five possible alternatives for resolving the long-running debate, including doing no further work on the road and making a $52 million payment to Swain County to buyout the 1943 agreement; and extending the road to the dam _ a project that comes with a projected price tag of some $600 million.

In a break from tradition, the park service did not identify a "preferred alternative" in its draft report; many observers have speculated that the agency was waiting to see whether Taylor would win his re-election fight with Shuler. The park service has called the settlement with Swain County the "environmentally preferred" alternative.

Bob Miller, a spokesman for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, said the final decision about what alternative to recommend is now in the hands of new Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and new National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar. Both, he said, "must be brought up to speed with a lot of issues across the country. So we do not know when they'll render a decision."

Even if the park service came down in favor of building the road, Congress would have to appropriate money for construction. And that seems unlikely with Shuler _ and not Taylor _ representing the district.

Shuler said he intends to push for the settlement _ an option that has been endorsed by the Swain County board of commissioners, North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and the Washington-based taxpayer watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Alexander has called completion of the road _ which would cross one of the largest roadless tracts of land in the eastern United States _ a "terrible idea." Easley has said almost "any construction activity on the north shore of Fontana Lake threatens the delicate balance of streams, woodlands and wetlands that we in North Carolina are working diligently to protect and preserve."

Shuler, a former NFL quarterback who led Swain County High School to three state titles in the late 1980s, said during his campaign that he often went to a quiet spot near where the road dead-ends to mull major life decisions. It was there that he decided to attend college at the University of Tennessee and to propose to his wife Nikol.

Shuler said he would like to see money spent to improve the pontoon boat service that takes families across Fontana Lake to the hard-to-reach family cemeteries.

"I sympathize, and my heart goes out to the people that have their families out there," he said. "We need to do a much better job of transportation into Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the people that have cemeteries to visit. We need a fund to make it more accessible."

David Monteith, a Swain County commissioner who supports finishing the road, said Shuler's action on the issue will determine whether he lives up to a campaign promise to bring "mountain values" back to Washington.

"We have a legal binding contract signed by the federal government to fulfill that road," Monteith said. "Once Heath Shuler takes the oath of office, he's got no other choice _ if he's going to have any integrity or mountain values or whatever _ but to honor this contract. If he does not, his mountain values have run out the door."


TOPICS: Government; US: North Carolina
KEYWORDS: shuler
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"I sympathize, and my heart goes out to the people that have their families out there," he said. "We need to do a much better job of transportation into Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the people that have cemeteries to visit. We need a fund to make it more accessible."

Uh Cong. designate Shuler, IMO, the easiest way to do that, would be to complete the road and not depend on a pontoon service.

1 posted on 11/18/2006 5:43:35 PM PST by Dane
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To: All
Below is a map of the Fontana lake area.


2 posted on 11/18/2006 5:51:51 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: Dane

Swain County is quite poor. They have far better ways to use $600 million than to clearcut a road through a National Park so that two dozen people that seriously need to move on with life might more easily visit 80 year old graves. And most of Swain County agrees..


3 posted on 11/18/2006 5:54:03 PM PST by AntiGuv ("..I do things for political expediency.." - Sen. John McCain on FOX News)
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To: Dane
"We've said from the very beginning that we think the road has the appropriate name,"

Methinks Robert Byrd may pay a "House" call to the pup to explain the virtues of pork and getting the proper nomenclature on venues.

4 posted on 11/18/2006 5:54:48 PM PST by ErnBatavia (recent nightmare: Googled up "Helen Thomas nude"....)
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To: Dane

$600 million buys a lot of pontoon trips. Spending that much for a road for a handful of people is wasteful of federal tax dollars. Sad that a Dem has a better grasp of the issue than his GOP predecessor. But he did win the election.


5 posted on 11/18/2006 5:56:23 PM PST by LenS
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To: Dane

Construction of the road would be nothing more than asinine pork project costing taxpayers approximately $600 MILLION dollars. Most of the local citizens support the compromise of approximately $100 million in economic development to Swain County. Shuler is right and Taylor was wrong on this issue.


6 posted on 11/18/2006 5:56:38 PM PST by MBB1984
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To: Dane

P.S. - wifey just noted that county looks a helluva lot like the continent of Australia!


7 posted on 11/18/2006 5:56:55 PM PST by ErnBatavia (recent nightmare: Googled up "Helen Thomas nude"....)
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To: LenS
$600 million buys a lot of pontoon trips. Spending that much for a road for a handful of people is wasteful of federal tax dollars.

Wow! What about the Federal contract.

And also who is going to pay the lawyer bills when a pontoon boat sinks.

8 posted on 11/18/2006 5:59:15 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: AntiGuv
The county will take the money (52 million) spend it on whatever and the pontoon service will never materialize.

The road seems half baked to me, but then again the families are the ones who are going to get the boot in the backside from ol' "Mtn Values" Heath.

I also think that the FedGov has a responsibility to those families. It certainly is not there fault that the Fedgov has hemmed and hawed for 60 years and the price tag ballooned.
9 posted on 11/18/2006 6:00:31 PM PST by padre35 (We are surrounded, that simplifies our problem Chesty Puller)
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To: LenS
$600 million buys a lot of pontoon trips. Spending that much for a road for a handful of people is wasteful of federal tax dollars. Sad that a Dem has a better grasp of the issue than his GOP predecessor. But he did win the election.

Is the federal government bound by their obligations or not?
10 posted on 11/18/2006 6:03:05 PM PST by padre35 (We are surrounded, that simplifies our problem Chesty Puller)
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To: Dane

I hope Shuler does to the democrats what he did to the Redskins.


11 posted on 11/18/2006 6:03:21 PM PST by Archie Bunker on steroids (We'll stay out of your bedrooms, if you stay out of our children's classrooms.)
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To: Dane

When a contract is broken usually you are only entitled to monetary damages and not specific performance.

And, there would be a heck of a lot more attorney time for the US taxpayers when they have to defend all the environmental suits that would be filed to block the road.


12 posted on 11/18/2006 6:03:38 PM PST by MBB1984
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To: Dane

I say this as a UT football fan, but I can't believe Heath Shuler is serving in the US Congress. The man is dumb as a rock and an arrogant punk.

Whenever the Redskins lost, it was never his fault, even when he played like complete garbage.

He's right on this road. I just can't believe the man is in office.


13 posted on 11/18/2006 6:04:12 PM PST by CheyennePress
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To: Dane
The TVA bought or took 67,800 acres of land from Graham and Swain Counties leaving 1,300 families homeless, some of which were widows with children, some who were elderly and many of which had never lived anywhere else. These people received no relocation assistance from the TVA or the government and the ones who refused to sell, had their land condemned and taken.

What does The New Dog suggest to compensate these folks..or are they all dead now?

If the 52 mil is for adequate and just compensation for these people, then I say go for it.

If the "projected" cost for completion of the road is 600 mil, you can bet it's closer to 1-2 bil.

14 posted on 11/18/2006 6:06:35 PM PST by evad
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To: evad
If the 52 mil is for adequate and just compensation for these people, then I say go for it.

The 52 mil does not to to the familes according to Shuler, it goes to the politicians in Swain county.

BTW, if it wasn't for the envirowhackos, the road would have already been build by now for a much lesser cost.

15 posted on 11/18/2006 6:08:56 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: MBB1984


Or the subject matter of the contract is returned and then damages are sought...


16 posted on 11/18/2006 6:10:44 PM PST by padre35 (We are surrounded, that simplifies our problem Chesty Puller)
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To: Archie Bunker on steroids
I hope Shuler does to the democrats what he did to the Redskins.

LOL.

Just like I hope Guv O'Malley does to Maryland what he did to Baltimore.
After all, that was his promise.

17 posted on 11/18/2006 6:11:15 PM PST by evad
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To: Dane; Congressman Billybob

Is this the seat Congressman Billybob contested in the primary?


18 posted on 11/18/2006 6:11:40 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
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To: AntiGuv

Just why should the county get 53 million? The status quo seems grand to me.


19 posted on 11/18/2006 6:11:41 PM PST by Torie
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

Yep.


20 posted on 11/18/2006 6:12:02 PM PST by Torie
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To: Torie
Just why should the county get 53 million? The status quo seems grand to me.

And also the breaking of a Federal contract?

How convienient.

21 posted on 11/18/2006 6:13:30 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: MBB1984

The contract was not breached since it was subject to the condition precedent of government funding. If it were up to me, that condition precedent would never be met, until such time as the sun expanded and consumed the earth.


22 posted on 11/18/2006 6:14:31 PM PST by Torie
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To: Dane

Is that a legal opinion or what?


23 posted on 11/18/2006 6:15:06 PM PST by Torie
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To: Torie
Is that a legal opinion or what?

Uh no a moral one, where an FDR era promise was made and should be kept.

24 posted on 11/18/2006 6:17:08 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: Dane

The executive branch does not have the power to constrain the Congress to appropriate money. The contract isn't worth the paper it is written on, and it is a waste of money, period. It is just a bondoggle to some county that wants to get lucky.


25 posted on 11/18/2006 6:19:34 PM PST by Torie
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To: Torie
The executive branch does not have the power to constrain the Congress to appropriate money. The contract isn't worth the paper it is written on, and it is a waste of money, period. It is just a bondoggle to some county that wants to get lucky

IOW, you admit that FDR snookered the families of Swain county who were displaced by Fontana lake.

26 posted on 11/18/2006 6:21:05 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: Dane

It might be "moral" to give the heirs of the families money perhaps for the value of their roadless land, although it does not seem the own any land at this point in the national park. That is about it. The County is just dialing for dollars.


27 posted on 11/18/2006 6:24:36 PM PST by Torie
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To: Dane

You can bet if the project were in an inner city in the district of a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, it would have been funded years ago.


28 posted on 11/18/2006 6:24:49 PM PST by srmorton (Choose life!)
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To: AntiGuv; Constitution Day; Tax-chick
I don't know. I'm torn on this one. I've still got kin in Swain County and over towards Franklin in the Cowee Valley. And I know this road quite well. At the very end of the road it's blocked off by a bar but you can get out and walk through the tunnel that was built (about 1/4 mile I'd guess). On the other side the road ends about 25-50 feet up and it's just woods. Some hunters go up there (of which the Park Service spends time trying to catch them). Frankly it's one of the most beautiful serene areas in all of Western NC.

Also I can't see the memorial services lasting much longer (maybe 25-30 years) before the next generation just drops it off altogether. And because of the view up there I'm not sure I'd want a road running through that area. I don't want it turning into another 441 (that road between Cherokee and Gatlinburg). The other thing is where the other end comes out. If it gives riders another route to the Tail of the Dragon I really wouldn't want it to be built. I ride but I also respect the old ways and the old towns up there. Franklin has been overrun, Murphy's just hanging on last time I checked, and Bryson City is one of the last (even though they have filmed a few movies up there)

29 posted on 11/18/2006 6:25:49 PM PST by billbears (Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. --Santayana)
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To: Torie
It might be "moral" to give the heirs of the families money perhaps for the value of their roadless land,

And what is so "immoral" of completing the FDR era promise of a road?

30 posted on 11/18/2006 6:26:31 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: Dane
Uh no a moral one, where an FDR era promise was made and should be kept.

Ah yes, the new 'conservatism'. Not only praise FDR but continue his policies. Tell me Dane, have you been up there before? I mean this road specifically.

31 posted on 11/18/2006 6:27:55 PM PST by billbears (Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. --Santayana)
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To: Archie Bunker on steroids

LOL! My poor Redskins.


32 posted on 11/18/2006 6:30:05 PM PST by rabidralph
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To: billbears

I see both sides of your point. There's not an ideal outcome at this point; like the TVA, they can't go back and undo everything!


33 posted on 11/18/2006 6:32:25 PM PST by Tax-chick (My remark was stupid, and I'm a slave of the patriarchy. So?)
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To: billbears
Ah yes, the new 'conservatism'. Not only praise FDR but continue his policies. Tell me Dane, have you been up there before? I mean this road specifically.

Where am I praisng FDR? All I'm saying is that the FDR administartion promised these familes a road, and it looks like a democrat in FDR's shoes(Heath Shuler) is going to renege on that promise.

34 posted on 11/18/2006 6:33:57 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: Dane

Ah, Joyce Kilmer, one of my favorite places.


35 posted on 11/18/2006 6:35:00 PM PST by dljordan
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To: billbears

BTW, bill, I have no idea if the familes own the land or if they have the right to develop the land commerically, but why should you dictate how these familes use their land and also go with Heath Shuler's reneging on a FDR era promise of a raod.


36 posted on 11/18/2006 6:39:30 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: Dane

The road was promised but times change as well. The promise is important but no longer a moral one. The amount of damage it will more than likely do to the area outweighs the promise


37 posted on 11/18/2006 6:40:19 PM PST by billbears (Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. --Santayana)
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To: billbears
The road was promised but times change as well. The promise is important but no longer a moral one. The amount of damage it will more than likely do to the area outweighs the promise

Whew put your resume into the EPA, they love elitists like you.

38 posted on 11/18/2006 6:42:37 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: padre35

Many, MANY, examples of "NOT"!

It is a common tactic for Gov. Org. "agencies", law firms, and other vermin, to simply draw a situation out until there is no one left to demand it's resolution.

No doubt once just a few more old timers pass on the Gov. Org. will simply say that the remaining "stake holders" are too few to justify any further expense.

The story is incomplete, were these people bought out or do they still own land beside the graves that cannot be accessed via normal means since the dam was built?
Are they being kept out of their homes and off their property?

Similar dirty doing's are being carried out against our veterans, particularly W.W. II vets.
H.R. 2088 should have been enacted with virtually no discussion, as a matter of justice for our veterans.
Instead the R!? chairman of the judiciary blocked it being brought to a vote.
Another couple of years and there will again be too few left for Gov. Org. to have to care.

Just another reason I could not find the energy to get more involved in the recent election.


39 posted on 11/18/2006 6:54:12 PM PST by Richard-SIA ("The natural progress of things is for government to gain ground and for liberty to yield" JEFFERSON)
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To: billbears; Torie

I've been going up there myself since I was a kid and building a highway through there would be a travesty even if it were for a good reason, which this is not. It's not even about the road anymore - it's about the money. They need to just settle it out and move on. As for the cemetaries, what more could you want for them than to fade away into the serenity of the Blue Ridge Mountains?

As for the legal justification, the cash settlement would compensate Swain County for the inundated roadway and bridges. It's an eminent domain issue.


40 posted on 11/18/2006 7:01:02 PM PST by AntiGuv ("..I do things for political expediency.." - Sen. John McCain on FOX News)
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To: dljordan

Ah, The Joyce Kilmer service area on the New Jersey Turnpike.... one of Jim McGreevey's favorite places.


41 posted on 11/18/2006 7:01:34 PM PST by kylaka
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To: Dane

Well besides the fact that it's in the middle of a National Park? But let's say they allow them to build the road? You planning on paying for it? Because the families aren't going to pony up $600 million to do it.


42 posted on 11/18/2006 7:03:00 PM PST by billbears (Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. --Santayana)
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To: billbears
Well besides the fact that it's in the middle of a National Park? But let's say they allow them to build the road? You planning on paying for it? Because the families aren't going to pony up $600 million to do it

Well that's not the point, a road was promised, by FDR and then Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes.

But I forgot, you like nancy pelosi and heath shuler, know what is better for the displaced families of Swain county, nevermind.

43 posted on 11/18/2006 7:09:38 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: AntiGuv
I've been going up there myself since I was a kid and building a highway through there would be a travesty even if it were for a good reason, which this is not. It's not even about the road anymore - it's about the money. They need to just settle it out and move on. As for the cemetaries, what more could you want for them than to fade away into the serenity of the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Did you type that from the back of your limosine?

44 posted on 11/18/2006 7:11:06 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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To: Dane

How about burrying you in the lake also?


45 posted on 11/18/2006 7:11:50 PM PST by dalereed
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To: billbears
The road was promised but times change as well. The promise is important but no longer a moral one.

How so? why is it no longer moral because the Fegov dragged there feet in fulfilling there end of the deal?
46 posted on 11/18/2006 7:12:09 PM PST by padre35 (We are surrounded, that simplifies our problem Chesty Puller)
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To: Richard-SIA



What is HR 2088? sorry, but I haven't heard of that bill.


47 posted on 11/18/2006 7:14:04 PM PST by padre35 (We are surrounded, that simplifies our problem Chesty Puller)
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To: AntiGuv

I wouldn't give Swain a dime myself.


48 posted on 11/18/2006 7:19:03 PM PST by Torie
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To: padre35
I've hiked on/near this road several times, and visited at least some of the cemeteries mentioned, and seen the mementoes of those who still care for them. I know there was a promise, but I also know how idiotic and pointless such a road would be, even at 1/100 of the cost.

It seems to me the idea of funding a ferry service, or providing other means for visitors to reach the cemeteries (they can hike like me, it's not *that* remote), fulfills the *principle* behind the original promise. It's virtually impossible to walk a few miles in a straight line in the eastern US without hitting a road, so it would be a tragedy to have such a pointless highway built in a beautiful wilderness area.

49 posted on 11/18/2006 7:35:15 PM PST by Liberty1970
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To: Liberty1970
It seems to me the idea of funding a ferry service, or providing other means for visitors to reach the cemeteries (they can hike like me, it's not *that* remote), fulfills the *principle* behind the original promise.

The original FDR/Harold Ickes promise was a road, not different transportation.

50 posted on 11/18/2006 7:38:48 PM PST by Dane ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Ronald Reagan, 1987)
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