The Alaskan senators have not given up on blowing hundreds of millions of dollars on bridges to nowhere.
While the two bridges had already achieved some notoriety prior to the transportation bill’s passage, after Katrina hit, the notion of spending federal money on infrastructure that would serve so few in such a remote area struck many as outrageous. It sparked some rather dramatic infighting among Republicans.
In late October, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., attempted to divert money from the bridge projects in favor of repairing a hurricane-damaged bridge in New Orleans. Coburn said he was answering America’s call to stop wasteful spending. This was apparently too much for Sen. Stevens, formerly chairman of the powerful appropriations committee. He threatened to quit in no uncertain terms, declaring he would become a “wounded bull on the floor of this Senate.” If his colleagues passed the bill, he said, “I will be taken out of here on a stretcher.”
It’s like watching the Roman Empire fall in fast forward. What would be the equivalent of these bridges in Alaska? Sending the treasury of Rome to rebuild Hadrian’s wall?
Surely given the total collapse of one of America’s great historical cities and hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, one could find some better way to spend the $200 million burning a whole in your pocket, Senator Stevens.