- (Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Lott)
The infamous "bridge to nowhere" became a focal point for those watching the Republican debate Wednesday night.
The bridge, which was proposed in 2006 to connect Ketchikan, Alaska, to the Gravina Island, has become a large symbol for everything wrong with Congressional earmarks. It was so named because there is already a ferry system between Ketchikan and Gravina Island that is sufficient enough for the 8,000 residents who may need to travel.
According to Indian Country Today, the ferry is an efficient and cheaper means of transportation, compared to the bridge which "would have been nearly as long as the Golden Gate, taller than the Brooklyn Bridge, and cost close to half a billion dollars."
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum sparred on the subject during Wednesday night's debate in Arizona. "While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the 'bridge to nowhere'" challenged Romney.
"You're entitled to your opinions. You're not entitled to misrepresent the facts, and you're misrepresenting the facts. You don't know what you're talking about," responded Santorum.
Reports show that this is not the first time Santorum has been criticized for his vote. Former presidential candidate Rick Perry hammered him at a campaign stop in Dec., but Santorum was quick to defend his action.
"People say that I voted for 'the bridge to nowhere.' I did. I went with the federalist argument, which is 'Who am I in Pennsylvania to tell Alaska what their highway priorities should be?' You had a city that was separated from its airport, and of course in Alaska you have to travel by air, and you had to have a ferry. There were times when they couldn't get across."
The Huffington Post shows that the project "was allocated $225 million in a $286.5 billion 2005 highway bill." Congress cut off funding for the bridge in 2007, and the bridge has since only been referenced as a harsh critique of frivolous spending.
Santorum has not been the only one to catch flack for the decision; former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin also backed the bill in 2006 but later flip-flopped and told the American public, "I told Congress 'thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere.'"
Romney and Santorum have been virtually neck-and-neck in this presidential race. Two primaries in Arizona and Michigan are set for next week and may very well shake things up the 2012 presidential contest.