What is the ‘bridge to nowhere’?

Claudine Zap
February 29, 2012

Mitt Romney is so 2008. The Republican candidate brought up a term that hasn't been heard since the last presidential campaign: the infamous "bridge to nowhere," which he mentioned during CNN's GOP presidential debate in Arizona.

Searches on the term have been flooding the Web ever since. Romney called up the bridge as a way to critique his fellow Republican candidate. The former Massachusetts governor accused the former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum of voting for earmarks, including the much-maligned bridge, saying, "While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the 'bridge to nowhere.'"

That would have stung if more voters remembered what the heck the "bridge to nowhere" meant. The multimillion-dollar bridge, which was never built, was held up as an alleged example of wasteful government spending back in the last presidential campaign.

Sarah Palin, the vice presidential GOP candidate, notoriously claimed she had said, "Thanks, but no thanks," to the bridge to nowhere. It later came to light that the tea party favorite had first said just "thanks," to the pricey pork, but then flip-flopped on the issue.

As governor of Alaska, she had supported the project, a bridge that would connect a small Alaskan city to an island of only a few dozen people. Palin later changed her position after national outrage caused Congress to remove the earmark in 2007.

Indian Country Today pointed out last Thursday that the Ketchikan bridge didn't make a whole lot of sense, given that there is a round-trip ferry in place and the proposed bridge would have been "nearly as long as the Golden Gate, taller than the Brooklyn Bridge, and cost close to a half a billion dollars."

Four years after the "bridge to nowhere" made its introduction to a national audience, it's still going nowhere fast.