Sarah Palin, Transit Advocate?

John McCain may not be big on public transportation, but as mayor of a small town in Alaska, his running mate Sarah Palin secured millions in federal earmarks for rail and bus projects.

9_3_08_palain.JPGThe Washington Post reports that during Palin’s two terms as mayor of Wasilla, when it had a population of 6,700, the town enjoyed a number of transportation-related funding successes, including:

  • $1.9 million for the Wasilla Intermodal Transit Project, to realign rail and bus routes to increase use of public transit in the region.
  • $15 million for a rail project to connect Wasilla with Girdwood, the home town of Sen. Ted Stevens (R).
  • $600,000 to upgrade bus stations.

The story contrasts Palin’s skill at lining up earmarks — with the aid of a lobbyist law firm now tainted by federal corruption charges — against McCain’s professed distaste for "pork barrel" spending. The Post says Palin once supported the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," a $223 million structure that was to replace ferry service between the town of Ketchikan and Gravina Island, but that she later "reversed course."

Despite her accomplishments for public transit in Wasilla, Grist says Palin has "developed an anti-environmental reputation" since she was elected governor of Alaska less than two years ago. Palin has proposed eliminating the state’s gas tax, and in June told a national TV audience that McCain was "wrong" to oppose drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:

"I think he’s going to evolve into eventually supporting ANWR opening
… I’d like the opportunity to change his mind about ANWR."

Here is Grist’s summary of Palin’s environmental record.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

  • It’s important to note that some of this stuff is pork that didn’t go anywhere. I can’t speak for the bus station work, but the commuter rail was a sort of pipe dream that ended up not helping the Mat-Su one bit – it did, however, provide a day tripper for a cruise line, basically a Federal government giveaway creating a train line to Ted Stevens’ home town of Girdwood for use of the cruise line company.

    Some information provided here.

    In order to get local support they claimed it would be a Wasilla/Anchorage/Girdwood commuter line, but at the end of the day it was just a cruise line shuttle, paid for by Federal tax dollars – the important language is that they claimed that it had the “potential” to be a commuter line someday. In other words, this nonsense is why Ted Stevens is on trial right now (by the way, the Anchorage Airport is named for Ted Stevens – anybody surprised?)

  • “The internet isn’t like a big truck, it’s a series of tubes!”

    — Sen. Ted Stevens

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