'Road to nowhere' opens in Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska The state this week completed a $25 million gravel road that was intended to lead up to the bridge linking the city of Ketchikan to its airport on a neighboring island.

The bridge project became the symbol of federal largess, and Congress eventually dropped the earmark for the bridge.

The state still received the money, but Gov. Sarah Palin - who once supported the bridge - last fall killed the project, valued at nearly $400 million.

Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein said the 3.2-mile road now is ideal for road races and hunting, and possibly some commercial development. But with no bridge to serve it, that's probably about it.

The bridge has also become a focal point in the presidential race with Palin, now John McCain's running mate, repeatedly telling crowds she told Congress "thanks but no thanks" for that Bridge to Nowhere.

Palin, however, originally backed the funding until the project became the subject of national ridicule, then she pulled the state's portion.

The state is considering cheaper designs for a bridge. State lawmakers made a brief and unsuccessful attempt at securing funding for a bridge during this year's legislative session.

The two-bridge project would have connected the town's airport on Gravina Island to Revillagigedo Island, where most of the 13,000 residents of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough live.

The airport is separated from its users by a quarter-mile-wide channel of water, forcing travelers to catch either a ferry or a water taxi.


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