\U.S. Rep. Garret Graves says the nearly $1 billion earmark he requested for a new Mississippi River span in Baton Rouge, isn’t a bridge to nowhere. But without a reliable federal partner, it may as well be.
Graves’ request for the bridge as part of Interstate 10, was the costliest of the $14.9 billion in earmark requests from congressmen for the yet-to-be-written House surface transportation authorization bill.
Graves, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, says he knew his request would draw attention. But he also knew it would make a point or two, Roll Call reports.
The first point echoes a common theme in Republican arguments against President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which proposes spending over and above the authorization bill: Roads and highways meet the definition of infrastructure, they say, but much of what is in Biden’s plan—health care, education, research and development—does not.
“Why would you go and grossly expand your definition of infrastructure if you’re completely failing at the areas of infrastructure that are at the core: roads, bridges, airports, transit and even ports and waterways?” Graves asks.
Critics of Graves’ earmark say it would take funding away from other necessary projects, but Graves and Louisiana officials say the new bridge, which has been in talks for years, is too costly for the state to fund itself and is critical to U.S. commerce.