July 11, 2007
Kirk's amendment if passed would have prohibited federal funds for both the bridge which would connect the town of Ketchikan to Gravina Island, as well as the Knik Arm Bridge, which would connect Anchorage to Port MacKenzie. If the amendment had passed, the State of Alaska would still receive the transportation funds, but would be unable to use them for these specific projects according to Kirk's prepared statement.
"Congress cannot justify spending more than $450 million in taxpayer funds on bridges that connect two communities with a combined population of less than 100," Congressman Kirk said. "The per-person cost for both of these 'Bridges to Nowhere' is more than $6 million. At a time when our national debt continues to spiral out of control, we need more fiscal responsibility from the Congress to safeguard taxpayers from wasteful pork spending."
In the 109th Congress, the House passed H.R. 3, (SAFTEA-LU), which authorized $223 million for Ketchikan's bridge to Gravina Island where the airport is located and $231 million for Anchorage's Knik Arm Bridge.
The FY06 Transportation, Treasury and HUD Appropriations bill contained a provision to defund the earmarks said Kirk. However, Alaska is still the recipient of the federal dollars and can allocate them as the state sees fit - including expenditures for the two projects.
Kirk said after Congress deleted earmarks for the bridges in 2006 and the House opposed funding, work continued. Alaska has obligated $36.3 million in federal funds to begin building the Knik Arm Crossing and $26.7 million in federal funds to build the "Bridge to Nowhere" in Ketchikan said Kirk.
Kirk's amendment was supported by Citizens for Government Waste, National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense and Americans for Prosperity.
Congressman Kirk successfully attached the amendment to the FY07 Transportation, Treasury, HUD Appropriations bill, H.R. 5576, on June 6, 2006. However, the final bill never passed the House.
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