Time's Allen and Bacon wrongly stated that funding for "Bridge to Nowhere" was eliminated

››› ››› EVA HOWE

A Time magazine article wrongly stated that Congress eliminated funding once earmarked for a mile-long, 200-foot-high bridge connecting Ketchikan, Alaska, to a sparsely populated island and regional airport. In fact, while the earmark was removed from the budget, the money remained, now available for use by the state of Alaska for any reason state officials deem fit -- including for the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere."

An article in the January 15 edition of Time magazine by Washington correspondents Perry Bacon Jr. and Mike Allen wrongly stated that Congress eliminated funding once earmarked for a mile-long, 200-foot-high bridge connecting the Alaska town of Ketchikan to a sparsely populated island and regional airport. Bacon and Allen highlighted the appropriation earmark as an example of "lobbying run amok" and noted "the money was cut from the budget in light of public outrage." But, in fact, while the earmark was removed from the budget, the money remained, now available without strings for use by the state of Alaska for any reason the governor and state legislature deem fit -- including the building of the bridge. The bridge was actually one of two bridges included in a $442 million earmark inserted by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) into the recent transportation bill.

When news of Stevens's additions to the transportation bill provoked protests from other lawmakers and garnered much negative attention across the country, Congress responded not by cutting the funding to the state but by removing the requirement that the money be spent on the two specific bridges. According to a November 17, 2005, New York Times article, "The change will not save the federal government any money. Instead, the $442 million will be turned over to the state with no strings attached, allowing lawmakers and the governor there to parcel it out for transportation projects as they see fit, including the bridges should they so choose."

From the January 15 edition of Time magazine:

One symptom of lobbying run amuck is the proliferation of earmarks -- spending placed in legislation, often without public review, for specific projects. "Beating up on lobbyists is easy to do, but we have to put our own house in order, and at the top of that list is earmark reform," says Republican Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona. The most famous recent earmark was last fall's so-called Bridge to Nowhere -- a provision that Representatives from Alaska inserted into a bill to spend close to $223 million to make it easier to reach a virtually uninhabited area of the state. In the end, the money was cut from the budget in light of public outrage.

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Government
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Time Magazine
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