‘The Bridge to Nowhere’ and 17 Other Notorious Congressional Earmarks

President Trump thinks allowing money for pet projects will ease congressional gridlock. Maybe, but the practice sparks memories of classic examples of government waste.

1. Palin’s “bridge to nowhere”

Todd Klassy / Shutterstock.com

The never-built bridge to nowhere still stands as the poster child of earmarks gone awry.

Championed by the late Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the bridge originally was the goal of a $223 million federal funding earmark for 2006. Crossing a popular cruise route called the Inside Passage, it would have linked the city of Ketchikan, on the southwest coast of Revillagigedo Island, to the city’s airport on Gravina Island, population 50.

Alaska eventually got the money, and hundreds of millions more for transportation projects, but not as earmarks. Then-Gov. Sarah Palin put the brakes on the bridge project in 2007 when cost projections exceeded $400 million. Alaska kept the federal money, but that didn’t stop Palin, while campaigning as the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008, from repeating the line, “I told Congress, ‘Thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere.'”

Alaska used some of the no-longer-earmarked money to improve ferry service between Ketchikan and its airport.


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