Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bridge to Nowhere?

Okay, so since McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, she's been going around saying she's a reformer, and using the following words as evidence: "I said, 'thanks, but no thanks' to the bridge to nowhere." Well, when you look at the record, you find out that she was all for the bridge until it was determined that Alaska would have to pay for it. However, I'm not writing to discuss Palin's dishonesty. I'm writing to express a different bit of dissent:

I'm totally in favor of building the bridge.

And why should I express such an unpopular opinion? Well, it just wouldn't be as much fun to talk about it if everyone agreed with me.

McCain once described the project as "a bridge in Alaska to an island with fifty people on it." This is technically true, but at best, misses the point, and at worst, is intentionally deceptive. Not exactly uncommon with political rhetoric. The bridge in question would be called the Gravina Island Bridge, and would connect the city of Ketchikan, Alaska to the nearby Gravina Island, which is inhabited by fifty people. And an international airport.

Wait, what?

Yes, that's right. There is currently no way to reach this international airport by ground unless you take a ferry, which runs twice an hour, and four times during tourist season. Seriously. Look, here's a map.

That's the city of Ketchikan, the fifth largest city in Alaska on the right, and its local international airport on the left. Notice the big blue gap between them. That's kind of hard to get around, especially considering the fact that boats and that airport are the only ways to access either island! That's right. To get to Alaska's fifth largest city, you have to either take a boat, or fly into its airport and then take a boat. But that's not the only reason for the bridge.

See, the city of Ketchikan sits at the base of some pretty difficult mountains. You'll see them if you hit the terrain button on the map above and zoom out. There isn't a lot of room left for easy expansion of the city. But notice, if you will, the nearby island of Gravina. That's right, the one with the international airport on it. It has plenty of nice flat land ready for development. It would be a whole lot easier to develop it if there were an easy way to get there!

The main argument against the bridge, of course, is the cost. But let's take a look at the cost. Most estimates reveal that the cost of the bridge would be about $400 million dollars. Now what else would 400 million buy that we could do without? Well, that will buy about four miles of four-lane freeway. Yep, four miles. Our freeways are pretty pricey. But guess what? Ketchikan doesn't get any freeways. So the least we could do is build them a freaking bridge to their freaking airport, right?

What else costs $400 million? Well, about three F-22 fighter jets. Yep. those things that litter the grounds of all those military airfields. Three of them would pay for that bridge.

Or dare I get more political? I dare! $400 million would pay for about a day of war in Iraq. Yep. One day. Say, how about we cut the war short by a few days and have a bridge and a massive nationwide party! Sounds like a better use of money to me.

Or how about this one? $400 million buys most of Bush's presidential library! Couldn't we forgo that and instead put up a booth with a cowboy hat, a barrel of oil, and a copy of My Pet Goat?

So let's just build these people their freaking bridge already. It would be rather neighborly of us. And then I could stop hearing about it. Over and over again. Ad-nauseam. Stop it already. Stop it. Stop.

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

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