In a refreshingly new look at the “Bridge to Nowhere” on CNN.com, reporters Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston of the CNN Special Investigations Unit reported that Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden both “voted to keep the project alive twice.”
When deciding between funding for the Bridge to Nowhere and repairing a bridge in Louisana post-Katrina, the two liberal senators chose the Alaskan bridge.
Both Biden and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama voted to kill a Senate amendment that would have diverted federal funding for the bridge to repair a Louisiana span badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, Senate records show.
And both voted for the final transportation bill that included the $223 million earmark for the Alaska project.
The article highlights Biden’s mocking of Palin for not speaking against the bridge before she was governor and states the taunts could backfire on the Democratic ticket.
This year, Delaware has requested 116 congressional earmarks through Biden, its longtime senator, at a cost to taxpayers of $342 million. In an appearance on CNN's "American Morning" with anchor John Roberts, Biden said that he had been open about those requests and that they all can be justified.
"Everyone has seen them, and we have no Lawrence Welk Museums and have no bridges to nowhere in Delaware. It's all straight up," Biden said.
Among his requests: $1 million for renovation of an opera house in Wilmington, another million for the construction of a children's museum and thousands of dollars for a water park renovation in Lewes.
"I think opera patrons generally can afford to -- you can raise money for an opera house; you can refurbish things a lot of different ways," Allison said.
"To have federal taxpaying dollars -- which is coming from people all over the country; low-income, middle-income people, as well as the wealthy -- to go to pay for the renovation of something that is really a luxury for Wilmington ... There are far more vital projects that anyone could think of that needs money. You got health care. You got education. You got all other types of things. Instead, we are redirecting money to refurbish an opera house in Wilmington or to build a children's museum."
And Biden's request includes a bridge that even the head of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce says is not crucial at this juncture.
The Indian River Inlet Bridge is a vital link between two popular beachfront towns: Dewey and Bethany. Without it, the estimated 30,000 summer visitors would have to travel an additional 35 minutes to get to the towns.
"We need a new bridge, and we are fortunate to be at a place where it is finally going to happen," said Carol Everhart, the chief of the Chamber of Commerce.
This despite the fact, as the article states, that the current bridge is safe.
The existing bridge has some erosion problems, and if it ever collapsed, Everhart said, it would cause an economic disaster in the community. But it's safe for now.
"The bridge, as it is, is perfectly safe," she said.
Still, Biden asked for $13 million to help shore up the existing bridge and begin construction of a new one. And that's what troubles the Sunlight Foundation's Allison.
"This bridge is not in any danger of collapse, and essentially what Sen. Biden is doing is saying, 'My state bridge gets the priority dollar even though it is not a priority project,' " Allison said.
He said the Department of Transportation, rather than U.S. senators, should be deciding which bridges get priority funding in the country. That way, the bridges in the U.S. that need immediate repair would be first in line for the dollars needed to do the work.
Despite Obama- Biden’s funding of the Bridge to Nowhere and risking a backfire, Biden’s campaign staff isn’t letting it go and pressed the reporters to interview Palin about her pre-gubernatorial support of the project.
CNN asked Biden's campaign whether it could ask the senator about his earmark requests and his votes on the Bridge to Nowhere.
In response, a staffer e-mailed, "You've interviewed Gov. Palin re: her completely made up position on the Bridge to Nowhere right?"