Palin Administration Still Pursuing ‘Nowhere’ Project
13 September, 2008
“What the media isn’t reporting is that the project isn’t dead,” Roger Wetherell, spokesman for Alaska’s Department of Transportation, said. In a process begun this past winter, the state’s DOT is currently considering (PDF) a number of alternative solutions (five other possible bridges or three different ferry routes) to link Ketchikan and Gravina Island.
The DOT has not yet developed cost estimates for those proposals, Wetherell said, but $73 million of the approximately $223 million Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) earmarked for the bridge in 2005 has been set aside for the Gravina Access Project.
Peter Feldman, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, did not respond directly to questions about whether Palin was aware that the project had begun anew or that $73 million in federal funds had been set aside for it. “The fact is that once Governor Palin was elected and had an opportunity to look closely at the project, she killed it,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “She fought for Congress to kill the provision, but they sent the funds anyway. Palin fired the kill shot by not using a dime of that money on the bridge.” Gov. Palin’s state office referred questions about the project to Alaska’s DOT.
The project was killed by Congress in 2005; Palin was elected Governor in 2006. How then, as the McCain rep states below, did Governor Palin (who ran as a pro-bridge candidate) have an opportunity to look closely at the project and kill it? How can she kill something that’s been dead for a year? Oh wait, but it’s not dead yet! Some of the money was put aside to fund an access project…the rest was spent on…?
Some was spent before she took office.
Gov. Frank Murkowski (R), Palin’s predecessor, was the first to confront what to do with the federal money. He redirected $48 million of the sum to be spent on various state transportation projects. He also, three days before he left office in December 2006, used about $26 million on a contract to build an access road from the airport to the bridge.
And it does look like she’s spent the money on other worth-while projects and directed the DOT to develop a more reasonable access plan. The bottom line, however, is that her often repeated line about how she is the one responsible for cutting the extravagant bridge project is an out and out lie.
Here’s a good sum-up of the bridge time-line.