Defending the Bridge to Nowhere (NOT Defending Ted Stevens)
A Response to Achance and Krempasky
By Leon H Wolf Posted in Republicans — Comments (84) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Achance has a long and impassioned response to Krempasky's front-page post, which I thought merited a highlight. People who have never lived in Alaska have a hard time understanding the rather unique infrastructure demands that often come with price tags that look ludicrous on first glance; Alaska is, after all, more than twice as big as Texas, with about the population of Wyoming, much of which is permafrost and/or mountainous. In other words, just keeping the basic services in Alaska is inordinately expensive, and many places don't even have what would properly be called the "basic services."
For instance, when I lived in Valdez, we were seven hours by car from the nearest city with a hospital (Anchorage) - that seven hours involved going by the one road which led out of town over the mountains, which went through Thompson Pass, which very frequently shut down due to excessive snow. We had a very small municipal airport, which was also more often than not closed during the winter months due to weather. The ferry would take you to Cordova, which was even smaller. If anyone in our family had needed anything more complicated than an appendectomy (we did have one family practitioner who could probably have managed that), we would have been screwed. And Valdez is actually better suited than many of the towns in Alaska by virtue of being at the terminus of the pipeline. And, Achance is right that the "lower 48" (as us Sourdoughs call it) have historically used Alaska as a raw resource reserve without investing diddly squat in infrastructure to service the people extracting those resources. So I'd be broadly sympathetic if Senators Stevens and Murkowksi made their case to the public about why money coming to Alaska should be left alone - I get irritated about ill-informed criticism myself sometimes.
What I don't support is Stevens' ridiculous move to try and keep it all a secret; no Senator should be able to direct appropriations into his State - however great the need - without the necessity of publicly defending it. Is it really so hard to point out that the bridge isn't for the 50 people who live on Gravina Island, it's for the 8,000 people (that's a lot, in Alaska terms) who live in Ketchikan who need to get to the freakin' airport* since there's no roads that lead out of town? I don't think so - and if Achance can do it, so can Ted Stevens. Unfortunately, much of the spending that Ted Stevens brings in is unnecessary, frivolous, and besides which pork, which denigrates money that comes in for legitimate Alaska purposes. Furthermore, because Stevens is lazy and dishonest, and would prefer to avoid the bother of justifying his actions (or indeed, even having them known), it all looks very shady, and causes people to view all federal spending on Alaska with suspicion.
Which is why there's no bigger fan of removing Stevens than I am - and I hope that soon the voters of Alaska realize the disservice he does to their great state, too.
*It may be protested that this is still a very steep price tag , but the government does (and always has) spent $200 million on projects of far less utility than allowing 8,000 people to have ready access to their only means of egress.