Close Close Comment Creative Commons Donate Email Add Email Facebook Instagram Mastodon Facebook Messenger Mobile Nav Menu Podcast Print RSS Search Secure Twitter WhatsApp YouTube

'Bridge to Nowhere' Timeline

Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska1973:Ketchikan International Airport opens. Some 85,000 visitors and residents fly in and out of the airport annually, a 15-minute shuttle to or from Ketchikan.

Winter 1996: Borough of Ketchikan passes Resolution 1311 in support of building a bridge between Gravina Island and Ketchikan.

June 9, 1998: President Bill Clinton signs into law the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), authorizing road and bridge projects from 1998 through 2003. It includes $20.4 million for environmental and engineering studies for the Gravina Island Bridge.

March 2002: The city council of the native village of Saxman on Gravina Island passes resolution opposing the bridge.

Feb. 20, 2003: President George Bush signs into law the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which includes $2 million to begin work on the project.

April 10, 2004: The phrase, "Bridge to Nowhere," is born in a New York Timesreport, quoting Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense, saying, ''It's a gold-plated bridge to nowhere.''

June 2004: Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) earns the Golden Fleece Award from Taxpayers for Common Sense for efforts to fund the Gravina Island Bridge.

July 29, 2005: Congress approves a five-year highway bill (PDF) with $454 million for the two bridges -- $223 million for the Gravina Island Bridge and $231 million for the Knik Arm Bridge. McCain blasts the move, saying, "The Gravina Island bridge is the infamous 'Bridge to Nowhere' because the total population of the island is 50�I want no part of this. This legislation is not -- I emphasize not -- my way of legislating."

Aug. 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina makes landfall in Louisiana.

October 2005: As the Senate considers the 2006 Transportation Appropriations bill, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) offers an amendment to divert $75 million in funding for the Gravina Island Bridge, along with money for the Knik Arm Bridge, to help rebuild the Twin Span Bridge in New Orleans. The Senate rejects the Coburn amendment, 15-82.

August 2006: Sarah Palin, campaigning for governor, says in an interview with a local paper, "We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that's so negative."

Wikimedia CommonsSeptember 2006: Palin, campaigning for governor in Ketchikan, holds up a pro-bridge T-shirt proclaiming, "Nowhere Alaska 99901," referring to the primary zip code of Ketchikan.

October 2006: In response to a question from the Anchorage Daily News about whether she supports the bridge project, Palin says, "I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now -- while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist."

Nov. 2, 2006: In a televised gubernatorial debate, Palin is asked if she would cancel the contract to build the access road on Gravina Island. She says, "I'm not going to stand in the way of progress."


November 2006: Palin is elected governor.

Dec. 4, 2006: Palin takes office.

Sept. 21, 2007: Gov. Palin announces (PDF) the state will abandon the Gravina� Island Bridge, "Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer."

Aug. 29, 2008: At a rally in Dayton, Ohio, days before the opening of the Republican National Convention, Palin says, "I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that 'Bridge to Nowhere.'"


Latest Stories from ProPublica

Current site Current page