Thursday, May 19, 2005

The world's most expensive bus stop

U.S. Gives Anchorage $1.5M for Bus Stop
Tom Wilson is faced with a problem many city administrators would envy: How to spend $1.5 million on a bus stop.

Wilson, Anchorage's director of public transportation, has all that money for a new and improved bus stop outside the Anchorage Museum of History and Art thanks to Republican Sen. Ted Stevens (news, bio, voting record) — fondly referred to by Alaskans as "Uncle Ted" for his prodigious ability to secure federal dollars for his home state.

Wilson is prepared to think big.

The bus stop there now is a simple steel-and-glass, three-sided enclosure. Wilson wants better lighting and seating. He also likes the idea of heated sidewalks that would remain free of snow and ice. And he thinks electronic signs would be nice.

"It is going to be a showpiece stop," Wilson said.

He acknowledges the money has put him in an awkward position.

"We have a senator that gave us that money and I certainly won't want to appear ungrateful," he said. At the same time, he does not want the public to think the city is wasting the money. So "if it only takes us $500,000 to do it, that's what we will spend."

That is still five to 50 times the typical cost of bus stop improvements in Anchorage.

The money was contained in a $388 billion spending bill passed by Congress last November, when Stevens was head of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Citizens Against Government Waste has ranked Stevens No. 1 every year since it began calculating lawmakers' proficiency at bringing home pork in 2000. In 2005, Stevens brought home more than $645 million, or $984.85 for each Alaskan, the group says.
Un-freaking-believable. Words cannot express my disgust.

Good heavens: CAGW ranks Stevens at the top, beating even Robert Byrd. If only a third of the allocated money is spent, like a good tax-and-spender, he'll probably find other uses for it.

The late Sen. Dirksen said, "A million here, a million there, pretty soon you're talking real money." I bet he never envisioned this travesty of the taxpayer's money.


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