The Ketchikan 'Bridge to Nowhere' Hauled Out in GOP Debate


As Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum battled it out last night at the 20th Republican debate on CNN, Romney brought back an old boogie man from the 2008 presidential debate—the infamous "bridge to nowhere."

The Anchorage Daily Newsreports 20th and perhaps final debate in the Republican primaries was essentially a two-man fight between front runners Romney and Santorum. With Santorum too close for comfort in the polls for the Michigan primary (one of Romney's many home states), the News reports that former governor of Massachusetts said to an embattled Santorum, "While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the bridge to nowhere."

The bridge to nowhere, for the uninitiated, was the proposed crossing to replace a ferry that connects the town of Ketchikan, Alaska, with Gravina Island. Gavina Island, which has the Ketchikan International Airport, has approximately 50 residents. The ferry that runs to Gavina Island leaves every thirty minutes, and every fifteen minutes during peak season, costs only $5 per adult, with free same-day return, and charges $6 per automobile each way. Hardly an insufficient or costly means of transportation, considering the proposed bridge would have been nearly as long as the Golden Gate, taller then the Brooklyn Bridge, and cost close to a half a billion dollars ($398 million to be exact).

Republican representatives Don Young and Senator Ted Stevens were the bridge's main supporters in Congress and pushed hard for federal funding. It became a major 2008 presidential campaign issue when then-Governor Sarah Plain told the roaring crowd at the Republican convention, "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere." Palin had actually been a proponent of the bridge, endorsing it while running for Governor in 2006, only to become a opponent after Congress killed its funding the following year.

Santorum, however, was not going to take being associated with the infamous bridge to nowhere lying down. "You're entitled to your opinions," he retorted. "You're not entitled to misrepresent the facts, and you're misrepresenting the facts. You don't know what you're talking about."