we're on a road to nowhere

Meet Alaska’s Airport And Harbor To Nowhere

Future's so brightWhat are you thankful for this holiday weekend? The re-election of the Muslin in the White House? That Ol’ Handsome Joe Biden is still driving his bitchin’ Camaro up and down Pennsylvania Avenue? That drunk Uncle Fred is behind bars awaiting trial on a DUI? Hookers and coke?

The people of Akutan, Alaska, have much to be thankful for. Oh so very much. About $100 million reasons to be thankful! Or sort of not thankful, and annoyed! Either way!

This is the Akutan airport:

Akutan, 766 miles southwest of Anchorage, has a year-round population of 75. But more than 1,000 seasonal employees work at the Trident Seafood fish-processing plant, described as the largest such facility in North America.

For years, air service was provided by PenAir (ed. note: heh!). The small Alaska airline used a World War II-era Grumman Goose, an amphibious aircraft, to land in the harbor and taxi up a ramp on the shore of the town. The age and operational costs of that airplane led officials to start planning a new land airport in 1999.

The steep terrain on volcanic Akutan presented obstacles. So authorities looked to uninhabited Akun Island, six miles away.

The airport cost $75.5 million dollars. To access it, suckers passengers had to board a hovercraft — we are not sure if it was full of eels — and take a $100 ride to the new airport.

Did we mention the hovercraft has failed epically in other Alaskan waters? The hovercraft has failed epically in other Alaskan waters.

The airport opened September 1, 2012. It closed November 4, 2012! About the only good news that can be said about the whole debacle is that there have been no plane crashes. Not even a mØØse bite.

But an airport to nowhere, that could happen to anyone. How about a harbor to nowhere as well?

Over the last two years, Knik Construction has converted what was once a flat stretch of tundra at the end of Akutan Bay into a full-size boat harbor.

“We’ve excavated almost a million cubic yards of material,” says project manager Craig Bauld.

For now, the harbor is mostly just a big hole in the ground. While the construction team has finished its work, there’s still no electricity, no running water, and no floats. There’s also no road from the village, which is two miles away, so the only way to access the boat harbor is by boat. That means the harbor is cut off from the village’s grocery store, post office and fuel dock. Steve Boardman is head of the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil projects division. He says the transportation situation is unusual.

This harbor to nowhere that will service the town that can’t even get its mail any longer for a plant that won’t be able to get rid of all the fish that are stinking up its shelves cost $29 million and was built on spec: “If you dig it, they will come,” if you will. Dig it?

But where did that money come from?

the griftiest
You might recall a big brouhaha over a program that President Obama signed that provided…and we at Wonkette Central want to make sure we get the language correct…grift money to shut critics up a stimulus to the economy by funding shovel-ready projects as well as education, energy assistance and other social services.

You know, for the kids!

The money for this harbor was approved in early 2009 by the then-governor of Alaska, who decided that the need for an unnecessary harbor for a town smaller than your local subdivision was huge enough to betray principles of not accepting stimulus funds, but that education was much lower down the list.

We salute you, Grifter-In-Chief!


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      1. Living in Joy

        You know, it's actually sad to watching her slide slowly into irrelevancy. Kind of Norma Desmond style. As she gets skinnier, her skin will sag. She will look older. She will need plastic surgery but if she's not grifting, then where will the money come from? It's an endless circle. Bristol is not going to cough any money to help her mother because she has to save it for herself. Working in a doctor's office is going to cut it for her anymore. I may even get nostalgic watching the Palin family drift off into the sunset. Just kidding. Couldn't happen to nicer people.

    1. miss_grundy

      So how much money did she make in the deal? I mean, she had to get something out of it? She's not a grifter for nothing.

    2. JohnnyQuick

      After avoiding Her Grifterness on the teevee this past cycle, she's really starting to seem just like a bad dream I had years ago.

      "A weird-talking half-term governor from Alaska? Who can't name one book or newspaper she's ever read? No, no one like that would ever run for vice-president, unless their last name was Bush. GO BACK TO SLEEP."

      1. rickmaci

        Just thinking out loud here, but why not get some multiplier effect from the stimulus and give them some money to fill in the hole and demo the airport?

  1. Wile E. Quixote

    Yeah, but if they'd spent that money on education instead of on digging a big hole in the ground the people they educated would have ended up leaving Alaska for someplace that isn't a frozen shithole full of right-wing fucktards and voting for Democrats.

    1. NorthStarSpanx

      To be fair, being a CEO of a State of which she was, is hard guys. She probably did it in the last five minutes of one of the 20 hour work-weeks she co-parented with the First Dude.

  2. BaldarTFlagass

    They're just looking ahead. With global warming, that place will be like Cancun or Mallorca 20 years hence.

  3. gullywompr

    If there's one thing you libtards are afraid of, it's a strong conservative woman. Let's see how hard you laugh after Palin becomes president in 2016.

    1. sbj1964

      Yes that would make good science fiction if you set it in a weird alternate universe where stupid people rule the world.Wait that's was real life.OMG!

    2. HempDogbane

      Coming soon: "If there's one thing you libtards are afraid of, it's a strong conservative Latina."

  4. Grokenstein

    Never thought I'd say this, but: the obscure Monty Python references don't work at all. Author, edit thyself.

      1. Grokenstein

        1. "a hovercraft — we are not sure if it was full of eels"

        "My hovercraft is full of eels."
        –From the "Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook" sketch.

        2. "Not even a mØØse bite."

        "A Møøse once bit my sister …"
        –The opening titles subtitles from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

          1. Grokenstein

            Because they have no point and make no sense here. It's distractionary "hipster dropping references" and just bad writing. As bad as responding with a question mark and expecting anyone to know exactly what you mean.

            Of course, those who shriek and flail their arms when they actually "get" a reference might see things differently…

          2. FeloniousMonk

            Nope. No standards at all. Nobody even bothers to point out that "distractionary" isn't a word. Not even those who realize that sometimes "?" is all the response that's called for.

          3. Negropolis

            And, I'm wondering why you are hanging around if this is so offensive to your most tender comedic sensibilities?

            Here are your courtesy pearls for clutching and salts for smelling. Now, go over and sit back on that fainting couch and think of Wonkette, you WATB…

          4. Grokenstein

            Wow, I sure know how to set off the shitheads, don't I? Exploding into whole strings of boilerplate insults straight out of 4chan…

          5. Negropolis

            Troll, behind me. I didn't once call you a "shithead" and you're the one going to complain about "boilerplate insults"? Rich.

            Stay klassy; don't ever change. You wouldn't if you could, bless your heart.

          6. Boojum

            It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.

            Theodore Roosevelt

    1. greenloner

      But, but, but . . . "my hovercraft is full of eels" is one of the best lines of all time, a classic. Wonketteers just wanna have fun.

  5. steamynachos

    I've flown PenAir. Let's just say they earn the nickname "When Air?" on a daily er, bi-weekly basis.

    1. aklibtard

      PenAir is one of the nice ones. There are a few local carriers around AK that are downright scary to get on. I remember the plane I flew into and out of Galena on literally had duct tape over parts of it. The logistics of just about everything up here can be somewhat, um, challenging.

  6. christianmuslin

    How do these two great construction projects tie into that equally great third project known as the bridge to nowhere?
    Perhaps they could call all of it Sarahville and invite Marriott to consider a 400 room convention hotel for the GOP's planning meetings for the 2016 presidential election since this engineering tripple wonder correctly depicts today's GOP and where it is going-nowhere!

  7. DrunkIrishman

    In that photo, it looks like she's trying to zip up her coat but doesn't know how … which I suspect is reality. "Todd, mah cot needs sahm zippin'!"

    1. FeloniousMonk

      Aargh, don't do that. If I have to think about the mating calls of Alaskan animals, I'd rather think of the caribou. Or the wolverine. Or the tundra shrew … oh, wait.

    1. FeloniousMonk

      Have you ever been on a hovercraft? I have, across the English Channel. You can feel every tiny wavelet. My girlfriend lost her lunch; luckily for me, I hadn't eaten. If God had meant us to ride on a cushion of air, we would all be Johnny Fartpants.

      1. bibliotequetress

        So, FeloniousMonk, from this I can assume that god intended a significant number of my former guy roommates to ride the waves on Hovercrafts? I did not realize it was divine grace rather than a side effect of an unfortunate yet regular blend of Pabst and Burger King.

        Well, it does make one understand how the "Jesus walking on the water" story might have come about.

  8. natl_[redacted]_cmdr

    Dear Alaska,

    Your request for secession has been approved. Good luck.


    1. aklibtard

      There's a political party up here that is dedicated to just that. The Alaska Independence Party is relatively large actually. They have their own state convention and everything. I think the only positive of secession would be that it would mean all the assholes from Texas that work up here would have to get work visas and couldn't stay.

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        This promises at least one unusual result: I would actually be interested in hearing from Sarah Palin, the day she really can see Russians from her back porch.

  9. natl_[redacted]_cmdr

    Years ago a teenage girl who was obviously coached by her mother called in to the Randi Rhodes show:

    Whiny girl: "Sarah Palin inspires me to speak my miiiind."

    Randi Rhodes: "So speak it."

    [pause. muffled voices] Girl: "Well…"

    RR: "How does she inspire you?"

    [pause, muffled voices] Girl: "She just does!"

    RR: "You have no mind! If you need Sarah Palin to *inspire* you then you have no mind!"

    Good times. [Warning, conversation paraphrased from cloudy memory, not meant as a factual statement etc.]

    1. Tundra Grifter

      That popular survial guide (bright yellow cover) had advice for how to avoid a raindeer attack.

      I thought that was pretty silly until I saw the video of the female reporter attacked by a raindeer.

      Bet she wished she'd read that book!

    2. pdiddycornchips

      She was Karving her initials on the møøse
      with the sharpened end of an interspace tøøthbrush given
      her by Svenge – her brother-in-law – an Oslo dentist and
      star of many Norwegian møvies: "The Høt Hands of an Oslo
      Dentist", "Fillings of Passion", "The Huge Mølars of Horst

  10. Toomush_Infer

    OT: Yesterday, 60 degrees, sunny – today, hell's white vengeance is upon us here in the troll-land of Northern Michigan….if it's like this here, how much of Alaska is under the ice as I write?….I'll bet 75 persons is a high estimate….

    1. Negropolis

      A lot of Alaska is actually quite dry, from what I hear.

      But, yeah, I saw pictures off people out at the beach in southwest Michigan, yesterday.

  11. fartknocker

    It needs to be stated whenever possible: Fuck you John McCain for releasing this stupid twat on the lower 48.

    The Tundratwat brought us the TeaTards, 4 years of terrible spelling, stupid policies that did nothing, Rick Perry believing he was a great leader, more snark, and the re-election of President Obama. It's always nice to see a goat fucker like McCain get fucked. Maybe him and Libermann can team up for 2016.

    1. malsperanza

      I'm really looking forward to McCain and Lieberman teaming up on the late-night half-hour infomercial for Viagra.

  12. PsycWench

    Well, teachers get all this union pay or something and also they have leftover construction paper that they can burn instead of wood or coal. Plus they probably all get some Target gift cards for Christmas or something.

  13. weejee

    A word salad from Lou Sarah cleans the mind almost as well as laying your head sideways on the counter and then pouring Liquid Plumber™ into your ear.

  14. AlaskaGrrl

    Well, to be fair, there is a real need for a harbor and for an airport. Not just for the 75 residents, but for the cannery workers. This area is part of the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. It is the largest wild salmon fishery in the world providing upwards of half of the commercially caught salmon. That cannery isn't there by chance and the people who live in that village are descendants of the peoples that first populated the islands, eight plus thousand years ago.

    Yeah, a pity that this worthy project was screwed up by Palin. One should look to see what connections there are between Knik Construction and Sarah, but be that as it may, if you eat salmon or care about the health of the oceans, you need to support these people.

        1. AlaskaGrrl

          The air carrier, PenAir, flew a seaplane, but they quit using it (WWII vintage aircraft) and have since quit servicing that part of the Peninsula with the exception of Dutch Harbor. Other, smaller air services have stepped in to replace PenAir, but none have a seaplane.

          The cannery used tenders to ferry product to a barge anchored off shore. It works, but isn't optimal.

          1. Jukesgrrl

            Wouldn't it have been cheaper to buy the town a couple of seaplanes instead of a $75 million airport for other types of planes? You could have just pretended to dig them out of the ground and we could have called them "shovel-ready" seaplanes. I would guess "not optimal" beats "doesn't work at all."

          2. actor212

            This. Sea planes seem to work really nicely in other parts of the Alaskan coastline and you could, you know, land near the town and avoid a $100 eeless hovercraft ride.

    1. Negropolis

      Yeah, it's not that the project isn't needed – in a state where the only in-and-out can be by air or sea, even very small communities need outsized transportation – but that it was very obviously and horribly botched, which I think was the purpose of the post. But, it's always good to get further background on this type of thing.

  15. HouseOfTheBlueLights

    The federal government is at fault here, for forcing the good people of Alaska to accept this money (actual argument made by wingnut friend on FB). (Also? Means test Alaska, please, which is rolling in extra oil money. For now. Also.)

  16. SayItWithWookies

    I don't understand the problem — if the harbor and the airport aren't useful where they are, why doesn't Alaska just move them somewhere else? These are the kind of commonsense solutions America needs right now! SayItWithWookies 2016 — We may not know where we're going, but we're making good time.

  17. Biel_ze_Bubba

    "The age and operational costs of that airplane led officials to start planning a new land airport in 1999."

    When you notice that your airplane getting old and expensive to maintain, wouldn't you conclude that the solution is a new airplane, not a new fucking airport? Just asking, because we all know how Mooselini is all against gubbmint waste of taxpayers' money.

    1. DahBoner

      You obviously did'nt take that class at Moosejaw U, called "How to bilk, scam andcheat The Gum'mint by building totally unnessary Airports, roads and bridges 101"

    2. AlaskaGrrl

      They didn't have an airport. The plane, a Grumman Goose, is a seaplane. It landed in the ocean and skiffs ferried the passengers, mail, freight, etc. to the shore.

  18. Negropolis

    I can tolerate a single picture of Ms. Failin' per post, but two? No way. This is too much. I know it's a part of our history, but I just can't abide in this.

    Sarah Palin: You Built That! Truly, the Governor from Nowhere to Nowhere.

    What better than building a hole in the ground to represnt the former governor?

  19. James Michael Curley

    " a town smaller than your local subdivision " with a population smaller than that of a car on the "D" Train.

  20. DinDCW4

    Just because she was one of those fucking bitches in high school is no reason to hold onto it… Wait… It is OK??? Well then, fuck her. Just fuck her.

  21. TribecaMike

    Bit o' trivia — The Grumman Goose was first commissioned by 1%er Edward Roland Noel Harriman, of the New York Harrimans (harruummpphh!), who's nickname was Bunny. All the 1%ers were called Bunny back then.

  22. YasserArraFeck

    The harbor might get an influx of seamen one day – now that Snowbilly is starting to look like the Crypt Keeper's younger sister, I see very little chance of semen in her future.

    Oh, and Eww!

  23. not that Dewey

    It's a conundrum for any low-population-density state, and the fact that there's a certain minimum cost for any kind of public works infrastructure item. I live in such a state, and we're struggling with a commuter rail right now. It costs as much as any commuter rail system costs, and only serves a few thousand people, so everyone thinks it's a boondoggle. But it's important that we have a train. What to do?

    I feel for these poor Alaska schmucks and their modern infrastructure requirements. Should they all just live in caves and ride dogs?

    1. NorthStarSpanx

      ntD – you should read the lovely comments "Alaskans" make against any Rural story in the papers. Nasty, vile and hostile that any community off-the-grid has the gall to exist. State largess paid for their infrastructure and makes their lifestyle affordable, but god forbid investments be made toward rural capital projects b/c it serves such a small population. If we never made it to the cities to buy up all the goods and use all the services, I'd like to see how useless we actually are to the State.

      1. Boojum

        So, use what works and is appropriate for a small population, even if it would be considered luxury elsewhere. A regular seaplane route, plus an as needed daily flight. Local transportation that is disconnected from the rest of the world (free electric cars?), so no need for ferry service for cars. Think small!

    2. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Why is it "important" that a few thousand people have a train?

      Low-density states do not, in fact, "need" trains, airports, and other expensive infrastructure. Politicians and civic boosters are suckers for developers' pie-in-the sky projections of economic growth "fueled by" these projects; they're blind to the reality that the local economy will never be able to justify the project.

      1. not that Dewey

        Highways and sewer systems will never pay for themselves, so why bother?

        Imagine a remote, but reasonably well-populated Indian reservation, 60 miles away from a city where there are jobs, and whose residents mostly do not own cars. Or, imagine a college town 90 miles away from an airport, with nothing in between. A train could conceivably be useful in these cases. It would appear to be a "boondoggle" from the point of view of economic growth, or to the teabaggers who think they shouldn't have to pay for it. Just as many childless homeowners don't think their property taxes should subsidize schools for people who have children.

        I didn't really want to have the City Mouse/Country Mouse argument. I've lived in Chicago and in this place, and they both have infrastructure requirements.

        1. Biel_ze_Bubba

          A bus is a reasonable public service — sewers, water, utilities, schools are likewise reasonable services. Only the hardest of hard-core GOPpers oppose that sort of spending.

          Boondoggles are black holes for (usually Federal) tax dollars, designed to benefit their politically connected developers. A train to an indian reservation (typically with a promised casino, projected to bring hundreds of thousands of tourists to Dry Gulch, ND) is a boondoggle, as is the six-milion-dollar state-of-the-art train terminal at the edge of the reservation.

          Every state has its share of pork, but Alaska license plates should bear the slogan "The Boondoggle State."

          1. not that Dewey

            There's likely a solution intermediate to "$6M unused train depot" and "not having sewers", and that's probably what we're both advocating.

          2. Biel_ze_Bubba

            Yep. I think we can agree that "new airplane" was the rational alternative to "$75,000,000 airport serviced by a hovercraft that costs more to run than the old seaplane."

            Then again, we aren't Alaskan politicians.

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