The "Bridge To Nowhere," which became a symbol of corruption and wasteful spending during the Bush years, has finally been scrapped in favor of ferry service.
Local officials said they were bowing to the new political reality. “Uncle Ted is no longer with us. Gov. Frank is no longer in office,” Ketchikan assembly member Mike Painter noted, referring to Frank Murkowski (R), who served as the state's governor from 2002-2006, and the state's late patron, Sen. Ted Stevens (R).
“Our best time for a hard link access to Gravina has come and gone," Painter continued. "It did get started, we did get the Gravina Highway. It looked like it was going to happen. But politics as they may be, the moon and the stars are no longer in alignment.”
In a 5-2 vote Monday, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly passed a measure that would allow Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst to submit comments to Alaska's Department of Transportation endorsing Alternative G4. The proposal requests new ferry ramps and upgraded facilities connecting Ketchikan, population 8,119, to Gravina Island, population 50.
According to the Juneau Empire, other proposals to connect Ketchikan and the island included two bridge and four ferry options. A no-action alternative was also a possibility.
In 2005, the "Bridge to Nowhere" garnered national headlines when it came to light that there was an earmark to foot its construction bill, estimated at $398 million. This allocation was supported by Stevens, who passed away in 2010, and Rep. Don Young (R ), who served as the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. In 2005, Salon reported that the Gravina Bridge was one of 6,371 earmarks in the Transportation Equity Act, in which Alaska received $941 million in funds.