Yet due to funds in a new transportation bill, which President Bush is scheduled to sign Wednesday, Sallee and his neighbors may soon receive a bridge nearly as long as the Golden Gate Bridge and 80 feet taller than the Brooklyn Bridge. With a $223 million check from the federal government, the bridge will connect Gravina [population less than 50] to the bustling Alaskan metropolis of Ketchikan, pop. 8,000.
"How is the bridge going to pay for itself?" asks Susan Walsh, Sallee's wife, who works as a nurse in Ketchikan. She notes that a ferry, which runs every 15 minutes in the summer, already connects Gravina to Ketchikan. "It can get us to the hospital in five minutes. How is this bridge fair to the rest of the country?" [...]
Included in the bill's special Alaska projects is $231 million for a bridge that will connect Anchorage to Port MacKenzie, a rural area that has exactly one resident, north of the town of Knik, pop. 22. The land is a network of swamps between a few hummocks of dry ground. Although it may or may not set the stage for future development, the bridge, to be named "Don Young's Way," will not save commuters into Anchorage any time, says Walt Parker, a former Alaska commissioner of highways.