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Steve-O

2 Bridges to Nowhere

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http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/news/17502.php

Spans would be among biggest but go nowhere

By Timothy Egan

THE NEW YORK TIMES

KETCHIKAN, Alaska - Even by the standards of Alaska, where schemes and dreams come for new life, two bridges approved under the national highway bill passed by the House on April 2 are monuments to the imagination.

One, in Ketchikan, would be among the biggest in the United States: a mile long, with a top clearance of 200 feet from the water, 80 feet higher than the Brooklyn Bridge and just 20 feet short of the length of the Golden Gate Bridge. It would connect this economically depressed town of 7,845 people to an island that has about 50 residents and the area's airport, which offers about six flights a day. It could cost about $200 million.

The other bridge would span an inlet for nearly two miles to tie Anchorage to a port that has a single regular tenant and few homes or businesses. It would cost up to $2 billion.

These "bridges to nowhere," as critics have dubbed the two costliest of the high-priority projects in the $275 billion House bill, are one reason Republicans are fighting among themselves in shaping the nation's transportation spending.

The man behind the House bill is Rep. Don Young, Alaska's lone member of the House, where he is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is known as "Mr. Concrete" but would like to wear another title as well. "I'd like to be a little oinker, myself," Young told a Republican lunch crowd in Ketchikan, taking mock offense at the suggestion that Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, directs more pork to their state than he does. "If he's the chief porker, I'm upset."

When asked why a town with one main road, a dwindling population and virtually nowhere to drive to needs a bridge to rival the world's great spans, people here inevitably respond with two words: Don Young.

Young, mindful that the highway bill comes up for renewal only once every six years or so, and that the House Republican Conference imposes three-term limits on committee chairmanships, says the chance to pour so many federal dollars into Alaska comes once in a lifetime.

People in Ketchikan, in far southeastern Alaska, are grateful for Young's efforts, and they can certainly use the 600 or so jobs that a vast government project would bring. But as a transportation solution, the bridge is seen as something of a joke. It would replace a five-minute ferry crossing.

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Good grief - millions of people in Atlanta - like other cities - are sitting in traffic which results in massive leves of pollution. And they're building massive bridges in Alaska to nowhere for the hell of it - oh sorry, 'economic development'.

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Well, you know that the thousands of people in Alaska need it.

Alaska's population is 626,932

Anchorage is 260,283 (41.5% of the state's population)

I can see why these people might want it, but a project of this scale is very expensive. It seems a bit wasteful to build such a huge bridge so people can get to the airport.

The bridge in Anchorage seems to make alittle more sense (albeit not much). It might lead to more development accross the water from Anchorage.

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Sounds like a waste to me. That's a lot of money to benefit a few people. Maybe they could invest it in a LRT system for the 5.5 million people of Detroit instead. LOL.

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