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The Alaska governor campaigned in 2006 on a build-the-bridge platform, telling Ketchikan residents she felt their pain when politicians called them "nowhere." They're still feeling pain today in Ketchikan, over Palin's subsequent decision to use the bridge funds for other projects -- and over the timing of her announcement, which they say came in a pre-dawn press release that seemed aimed at national news deadlines.
The bridge was intended to provide access to Ketchikan's airport on lightly populated Gravina Island, opening up new territory for expansion at the same time. Alaska's congressional delegation endured withering criticism for earmarking $223 million for Ketchikan and a similar amount for a crossing of Knik Arm at Anchorage. Congress eventually removed the earmark language but the money still went to Alaska, leaving it up to the administration of then-Gov. Frank Murkowski to decide whether to go ahead with the bridges or spend the money on something else. In September, 2006, Palin showed up in Ketchikan on her gubernatorial campaign and said the bridge was essential for the town's prosperity.
Meanwhile, Weinstein noted, the state is continuing to build a road on Gravina Island to an empty beach where the bridge would have gone -- because federal money for the access road, unlike the bridge money, would have otherwise been returned to the federal government.