By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Palin favored the “Bridge to Nowhere”

Flummoxed conservatives looking for something nice to say about Sarah Palin cite her opposition to the “Bridge to Nowhere,” a proposed $398 million Alaskan boondoggle that John McCain fought against. For instance, here’s what New York Times columnist David Brooks said on “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” last night:

But what he saw when he looked at her, according to the people I spoke to, is someone who fights the same fights I fight. The first gateway sort of fight that he thought they have in common was the bridge to nowhere. He’s been talking about that for years. She’s the one who killed it.

Wrong. As The New Republic’s Bradford Plumer shows, citing reports from the Anchorage Daily News and Palin’s own official statement, Palin supported the bridge at every step, and dropped it from her list of priorities only when it became clear that federal funding wasn’t going to be forthcoming. In her statement, she even criticizes congressional opponents of the bridge, including, by implication, McCain:

Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.

Here’s an AP report from Sept. 22, 2007, noting that Palin had withdrawn her support for the bridge because of lack of funding.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Palin’s a global-warming skeptic, too


“The media” cheer Obama (II)


  1. mike_b1

    Wow, she’s bright.And she won second place in a beauty contest!

  2. O-FISH-L

    So it’s a bad thing that Governor Palin withdrew support for a major public works project when she realized there wasn’t sufficient funding for it? A smart and courageous use of EXECUTIVE authority if you ask me. Then again, I’m sure in his executive days Obama would have made the heart wrenching decision to cancel the South Side kite festival if the kites became too expensive and donations weren’t forthcoming. Or perhaps he would have allowed the festival to continue while limiting each child to one Hoodsie cup each. No wooden spoons either, the kids can fold the circular cover and use it as a scoop for more savings. If Dukakis or Weld had applied the same logic to the Big Dig as Governor Palin applied to the bridge, we wouldn’t be in the transportation catastrophe we’re now experiencing here. Back to the drawing board, Dan.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: So let’s make sure we’ve got this straight.1. McCain supporters claim Palin fought waste by opposing the Bridge to Nowhere, just like him.2. It turns out to be false. She supported it, and dropped it only because federal funding disappeared. For good measure, she criticized congressional opponents — McCain included.3. No problem!

  4. Rick

    Dan,You’re going all out on Palin huh?

  5. acf

    It was wrong to support that project in the first place. It was merely pragmatic to drop support for it when she realized the funding problem it had on the federal level. It is illegitimate to claim that as a resume item of her conservative bona fides when all she really did was accept the inevitable…she wasn’t getting a nickle of federal money for that project. If the pork money had come across, the project would still be in progress.

  6. Jess

    In her speech yesterday, I believe the quote was, “And I said ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ for that Bridge to Nowhere.”Which is a blatant lie, right off the bat. The Federal funding was yanked, and she chose not to replace it with state money. Which is a good decision, but doesn’t mean she sent the money back.

  7. Brian Flaherty

    Dan I almost always disagree with what you have to say but I love reading your thoughts. That being said, your crusade against Palin is confusing and turning me off. I have never seen you go after someone or something so vehemently.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    I have never seen you go after someone or something so vehemently.I didn’t realize you were that new a reader, Brian. Welcome.

  9. Dave

    Real hard-nosed journalism.Timeline:In 2005 Congress killed the earmarks for federal funding for the bridge but didn’t reduce the federal funds sent to Alaska.As a candidate for Governor, Palin said in May 2006 that it’s hard to believe the bridge is the best use for all the money it will cost, but came out in favor of state tax increases on natural gas and cruise ship revenues if the project moves forward. Then she said in August 2006 that she would love to see the Ketchikan bridge constructed, though she also acknowledged Alaskans need to be realistic about where the money would come from.In October of 2006 Palin said that she supported the overall infrastructure projects going on in Alaska but warned that the flow of federal money is going to slow. Palin assumed office in December 2006.In February 2007 Palin’s office announced that they had specified no money in their budget for the bridge project.In September 2007 upon the cancelation of the project, she said “Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer” and directed the state transportation department to find the most “fiscally responsible” alternative for access to the airport.All of the above is from the Anchorage Daily News.

  10. ArmandV

    Governor Palin did kill the bridge project, just as Dave posted.It was also covered by ABC News and at the time.See my write-up with quotes from both articles:

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Armand: This is as simple as it gets. She campaigned in favor of the bridge, and she withdrew her support after the federal funding was cut. She even issued a statement criticizing politicians like John McCain, who had held up the bridge as an example of pork-barrel spending run wild.Even Massachusetts governors Michael Dukakis and Bill Weld would have canceled the Big Dig if federal funding had not come through. (Too bad it did!)You can try to turn this into a partisan argument, but facts are facts. Start reading the Alaska papers. They’re online.

  12. MeTheSheeple

    This debate is like the lottery — a tax on idiocy. Now I’m out $7 for going through the Anchorage Daily News’ archives.Oct. 16, 2006 story from the campaign trail: Knowles, whose campaign shrugged off the flip-flop accusations as groundless “garbage,” directed his response to Palin when the topic turned to a nearby stretch of the Parks Highway — and how to pay for making it safer.Knowles has said that paying for controversial projects like a proposed Knik Arm bridge shouldn’t necessarily come at the expense of local road safety projects like upgrading the Parks between Wasilla and Big Lake.”When you make promises in Ketchikan that you’re going to do the Gravina Island bridge, promises in Juneau that you’re going to build that Juneau road and then promises here that the top priority’s going to be the Knik Arm bridge — what are you going to do with the Parks Highway?”While Palin said upgrades to the Parks are a must and a long time coming, she also said projects like a bridge over Knik Arm linking Anchorage and Mat-Su may be “now or never” propositions while the state’s current influential congressional lineup is still in Washington, D.C.Conclusion: Yep, she was for it if the money was there.December 16, 2006 article on budget plans: Gov. Sarah Palin proposed a spending plan Friday that would increase the state operating budget by 5 percent while shaking the list of publicly funded construction projects down to the bare minimum. …Palin’s budget doesn’t include money for mega projects that she supported as a candidate, such as the controversial Gravina Island bridge in Ketchikan.Conclusion: Read that last sentence there. And read it again. And again.February 7, 2007 article describes a Department of Transportation study: Palin killed off a proposed gravel road linking Juneau to the state highway system. It does not say that that Palin took the opportunity to kill the bridge to nowhere, even though that would harm the rest of the state: Both the Juneau road and the Ketchikan Gravina Island Bridge project, known by its detractors as the “Bridge to Nowhere,” drew criticism in the report.”Statewide, these two projects are seen as a severe drain on resources that would otherwise be assigned to heavily used commercial and passenger routes,” the report said.Conclusion: Palin had the power to kill road projects, and she used it for a different project. She was warned in February 2007 that the bridge would be costly.Again, the money quote from December 16, 2006: Palin’s budget doesn’t include money for mega projects that she supported as a candidate, such as the controversial Gravina Island bridge in Ketchikan.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén