Gravina bridge in state DOT plans

Posted: Thursday, October 01, 2009

KETCHIKAN - Plans for Alaska's so-called Bridge to Nowhere are long scrapped, but the state continues to look for ways to improve access between the Panhandle town of Ketchikan and its airport on nearby Gravina Island.

A nondescript Gravina access project is included in a state transportation improvement draft, a year after the island served as a punchline in the U.S. presidential election.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin had backed the nearly $400 million bridge link to its airport when she campaigned for governor.

But she axed the project and listed it among her fiscally conservative credentials while campaigning as John McCain's running mate last year. The earmark was dropped, but the state still received the money.

While campaigning as the GOP vice presidential candidate last year, Palin said she told Congress "thanks but no thanks" on the Bridge to Nowhere.

The line brought cheers on the campaign trail but drew winces back home among those who knew Palin had supported the project and only turned against it after Washington backed off its financing.

The mention of Gravina on the transportation draft is essentially a placeholder, while the state Department of Transportation works on a supplemental environmental impact statement for the project.

Spokesman Roger Wetherell said the process likely will consider two main bridge options and four ferry options.

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