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Amendment Blocks Use of Federal Funds for Construction of Bridges


June 08, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) praised the House Appropriations Committee decision Tuesday to approve his amendment that would block federal funding and prohibit federal officials from spending federal funds for the construction of the Knikand Gravina bridge projects.

In a news release Kirk said, "Passage of my amendment sends a strong signal to the American people that the time for this expensive style of federal spending has passed. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 34 percent of our roads and over 100,000 bridges in America are in need of repair. Far fewer of these bridges and roads would be fixed if we allowed this project to move forward."

Ketchikan's proposed Gravina bridge project would connect the Alaska city of Ketchikan to Gravina Island where the Ketchikan International Airport is located. In a news release Tuesday, Congressman Kirk primarily criticized the Ketchikan bridge and made no mention of the Knik bridge.

Kirk said, "The $320 million Bridge would replace a $6.00, 30 minute ferry ride with a structure nearly as long as the Golden Gate Bridge and standing 80 feet higher than the Brooklyn Bridge. It would connect Ketchikan with an island that has no stores, restaurants or paved roads."

Action was taken in November of 2005 to remove the mandate from Congress to build the bridges. However, Alaskan officials later announced that Alaska would use some of its federal transportation money to fund some of the construction costs of the bridges.

In a written statement, Congressman Don Young (R-AK) criticized Kirk's amendment. Young stated that he plans to vote to remove the provision from the bill when it comes to the House floor for a vote. Young said the bridge projects are well needed and the federal funds should not be taken away from the people of Alaska.

A spokesperson for the U.S. House Transportation committee said Alaska Congressman Young could challenge the amendment on the grounds that Congress is not allowed to legislate in an appropriations bill. According to Hanson, it would be unusual for Congress to restrict the use of federal funding after the money has already been give to a state.

The Transportation Appropriations Bill, which included Kirks' amendment, could be taken up on the House floor as early as next week.


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Congressman Mark Steven Kirk

Congressman Don Young

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