New Transportation Bill Full of Pork

July 31, 2005— -- Just before Congress adjourned for its traditional August recess, the two branches approved a $286 billion transportation bill.

The bill will fund all kinds of worthy projects, such as bridges, roads and bikepaths. But it was also full of pork -- special projects that members of Congress attached to bill, each one a little something extra for the people in their own districts.

Both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill. Sen. John McCain was one of the handful of spoil-sports to speak out against the inclusion of more than 6,000 pet projects.

"You know, there's an old saying about evil -- and that is that if you don't check it or reverse it then it just continues to get worse," he said on the Senate floor.

Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group, estimates that the transportation bill funded $24 billion of special projects, which means over 8 percent of that budget went to pork.

"This transportation bill is one of the biggest boondoggles in the history of federal spending," said Tom Schatz, the group's president.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, brought home lots of bacon -- nearly $1 billion. Here are some projects that got funding:

$250 million earmarked for a bridge in Anchorage to be named Don Young's Way.

Another $250 million for a bridge to connect the town of Ketchikan (pop. 14,000) to Gravina Island (pop. 50).

Congress also tossed in $3 million to pay for a documentary film about Alaska. The subject is how Alaska is spending money on its highways.

Alaska is far from alone in its pork. Here are some outrageous examples from other states:

$2 million to replace an elevated highway in Manhattan with a tunnel so Donald Trump can put up a new building.

$1.6 million for a waterfront walkway honoring Frank Sinatra in his hometown of Hoboken, N.J.

$100,000 for a traffic light in Canoga Park, Calif.

A provision granting tax credits for liquor wholesalers.