My turn: Gravina: Buy your own road

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I much appreciated the vigorous call for the building of the so-called bridges to nowhere that have received so much attention over the last few years, but I think I have a way that much of the resistance to building these projects could be overcome.

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The costs to build these bridges are measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It seems inconceivable, but the reality is undeniable. So the question is: How do we pay for it?

I know that when I go to get a passport at a federally legislated and paid-for immigration office, I now have to pay hundreds of dollars for what used to be all but free. Passports are more expensive and it's been deemed fair that the users pay for those upgrades.

Likewise, when I go to a National Park I am increasingly encountering user fees even though the park belongs to all of us and legislation has been passed to cover the management of the park, including making the owners of the park (we the people) feel at home when they visit.

So, why not a user fee for the bridge to Gravina Island for instance? I know it would seem kind of expensive if the $250 million cost were divided among the first 50 or so land holders over there - $5 million per owner - but we live in a world where the people who have the most influential access to our leaders are buying personal jets, multi-million dollar vacation homes and treating themselves in the lavish way they think they deserve. And these, coincidentally, seem to be the same folks who own major pieces of land on Gravina, or so it's been said.

It really is an investment in their future since there could be little doubt that in the future the original owners will sell off their land to their heirs. Their heirs, in turn, will sub-divide the land and presumably make a profit, so it will all work out in the end. And the people who will have paid for this oh-so-vital link will see their "death-tax"-free heirs profit from their capitalistic foresight and vision for development.

I'm sure they'll feel prouder and more in line with the ownership idea we hear so much about when it comes to getting rid of bloated government programs from our lives - particularly when it comes to using tax money for regular folks, you know, the kind that don't get taken to Scotland for golf or have billion-dollar contractors work on their luxury vacation homes in Girdwood.

Oh, and as for the name of the bridge. Let's name it after the people who are most supportive of it and call it the Gravina People's Bridge. That sounds very democratic. But of course, I'm just an outsider whose money they're trying to pretend is theirs for the taking.

• Douglas Lucchetti lives in Roswell GA.

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