Congressman Jared Polis today blasted House Republicans for continuing to fund Alaska’s “Bridges to Nowhere.”
“When something is killed it stays dead,” said Polis. “But just like in a bad zombie movie, Alaska’s earmarked Bridges to Nowhere refuse to die and have returned to life in the GOP’s wasteful spending. If Alaska wants to build a bridge to nowhere or a road to nowhere—go right ahead—just don’t do it with our tax dollars,” he said in a prepared statement.
According to Polis, while no one expects the bridges to be completed, they are still be funded by Congress. It is money, Polis said, should go instead to reducing the deficit.
Calling the bridges “Our nation’s most infamous earmarks,” Polis said the Alaska bridges “are synonymous with government waste.”
In 1995, his office said, Congress provided a total of $454 million to the state of Alaska through eight separate earmarks for use on the Gravina Island and Knik Arm Bridges.
Polis’s office said that despite claims that the “Bridges to Nowhere” earmarks have been eliminated, Alaska has spent more than $71 million of federal funds to proceed with these bridge projects and accompanying access roads over the past six years.
Polis offered a motion to rescind all remaining funds – approximately $183 million – for the planning, design, and construction of the two bridges. The motion, which failed, would have prohibited the use of any funds provided under the Surface Transportation Extension Act to finance these bridge projects. According to the Congressional Budget Office, eliminating funding for these two bridges would reduce the deficit by approximately $160 million over the next 10 years.
“Will continuing projects like these solve our deficit problems or responsibly reduce spending?” asked Polis. “For us to have the credibility as a Congress to make the tough cuts we need and balance the budget, Congress must have moral standing. Continuing to provide funding that can be used for these bridges, which most Americans thought were already dead, is not the way for Congress to build trust with the American people.”