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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The Bridge to Nowhere Is a Family Matter for Rep. Don Young, Alaska GOPer

Rep. Don Young, R-AK, has been pursuing federally funded bridges across Knik Arm near Anchorage and Gravina Island near Ketchikan for years. Not even a public outcry against the $452 million earmarked for the two projects as pork barrel spending has deterred the powerful Alaska Republican who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Whatever the policy grounds underlying Young's determined advocacy of the projects, evidence has emerged that the issue is also a family matter, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The Alaska paper reports that Young's son-in-law, Art Nelson, is a minority participant in a partnership that owns a prime 60-acre tract of land near the Knik Arm project. Nelson, who is also Chairman of the Alaska Board of Fisheries, owns a 10 percent share of Point Bluff LLC, which has four other members.

"To state Board of Fisheries chairman Art Nelson, Don Young's Way, the proposed Knik Arm crossing named after his father-in-law, is hardly a bridge to nowhere.
"For Nelson and his well-connected partners in Point Bluff LLC, Rep. Don Young's span is in fact a bridge to somewhere: their 60 acres of unobstructed view property on the Point MacKenzie side of Cook Inlet. The land sits directly across from Elmendorf Air Force Base, north of the Anchorage port and downtown.
"'It's beautiful property,' Nelson said.
"If a road were built to the land today, it would require about a two-hour commute to downtown Anchorage. But a bridge would change everything. Don Young's Way would mean a shorter drive to downtown than from the Anchorage Hillside - and make the land much more valuable."

Young has been a vocal advocate of the two projects since at least 2001. The Point Bluff LLC was formed in 2002.

Go here for the full story.