If You’ve Opposed One Bridge, You’ve Opposed Them All

The Associated Press has taken a new tack in its assault on Governor Sarah Palin: she supports the construction of a bridge!

Gov. Sarah Palin may eventually have said “no thanks” to a federally funded Bridge to Nowhere.

But a bridge to her hometown of Wasilla, that’s a different story.

A $600 million bridge and highway project to link Alaska’s largest city to Palin’s town of 7,000 residents is moving full speed ahead, despite concerns the bridge could worsen some commuting and threaten a population of beluga whales.

The AP views this as a contradiction, apparently on the assumption that one must either support all bridges, or none. That’s a bizarre theory; it seems rather obvious that some bridges are a good idea, while others are not.

The bridge at issue is the Knik Arm bridge, that would link Anchorage to points west and north. You can read about the Knik Arm bridge here. Currently, people who live across the Knik Arm from Anchorage have to drive 80 miles to get there. If the two-mile bridge were built, access would obviously be a great deal easier. (This must be what the AP means by “worsen[ing] some commuting.”) This aerial photograph shows where the bridge would go:

This map gives more context; the proposed bridge would go across the mouth of the Knik Arm, from the Point Mackenzie Development Area in the lower left to the City of Anchorage:

Note the location of Wasilla in the upper right portion of the map. Now recall these utterly dishonest statements by the Associated Press:

But a bridge to her hometown of Wasilla, that’s a different story. A $600 million bridge and highway project to link Alaska’s largest city to Palin’s town of 7,000 residents is moving full speed ahead….

The Knik Arm Bridge is not, obviously, a “bridge to [Palin’s] hometown of Wasilla,” nor does it “link Alaska’s largest city to Palin’s town of 7,000 residents.” Wasilla is many miles away from the proposed bridge, and, in fact, the quickest route from Wasilla to Anchorage may be the existing one, even if the proposed new bridge is built. The Associated Press just made up those inflammatory statements to try to prejudice you against Sarah Palin and to help the Obama campaign.

This map gives still more context. It shows how the proposed bridge would supply a more direct route to Anchorage from Fairbanks and other points north; you could go south from Willow rather than diverting to the east:

I don’t have any firm opinion about whether the Knik Arm Bridge is a good idea or a bad idea. When I spent a lot of time in Alaska on business a few years ago, just about everyone I talked to thought it should be built. Be that as it may, there is no inconsistency between killing the Bridge to Nowhere and supporting the Bridge to Anchorage. Which is not, contrary to the false and politicized claims of the Associated Press, a bridge from Anchorage to landlocked Wasilla.

ONE MORE THING: I can’t imagine why building a bridge across Knik Arm would bother the beluga whales, but I can vouch for the fact that belugas do indeed swim up and down the Arm. I’ve watched them from the windows of an office building in downtown Anchorage. It’s a beautiful sight.

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