Last night, C-SPAN re-aired the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial debate, in which Sarah Palin expressed her support for an earmark related to the famed “Bridge to Nowhere.”
Congress had already removed earmarked-funding for the Bridge to Nowhere in Ketchikan, Alaska. Despite the fact that the bridge was not going to be built, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski approved the construction of a $24 million gravel “access” road (the Gravina Island Access Highway) that would lead to a nonexistent bridge.
In the 2006 debate, Palin was asked whether she supported this earmark, or whether she would pledge to cancel it as governor. Rather than responding with “thanks but no thanks” to federal funding for this “access” road, Palin said:
I wouldn’t [cancel the project]. I’m not going to stand in the way of progress that our congressional delegation — in the position of strength that they have right now — they’re making those efforts for the state of Alaska to build up our infrastructure. I would not get in the way of progress.
Independent candidate Andrew Halcro responded that he would cancel the project, explaining “this isn’t progress. This is a road to a bridge that will never be built.” Watch it:
In June 2007, Ronald Utt, a fellow at the conservative Heritiage Foundation, offered this recommendation for what Palin should do with the funds:
Gov. Palin could return the money for the gravel “access” road to Washington, perhaps even with a request that the money go to rebuild hurricane-ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi. While Alaska, or any state for that matter, naturally is reluctant to return money to the federal government, doing so is the responsible and ethical thing to do and likely would benefit Alaska in the long run.
Palin did no such thing. To this day, the state of Alaska “is continuing to build a road on Gravina Island to an empty beach where the bridge would have gone — because federal money for the access road, unlike the bridge money, would have otherwise been returned to the federal government.”
Also, CQ notes that there is “a second bridge, more than twice as expensive and just as controversial” as the canceled Bridge to Nowhere in Katchikan. Palin has expressed concern about the project “but hasn’t tried to kill [it] off.”