Coconut Road Update

COCONUT ROAD UPDATE….If you have a good memory, you may remember a post from last year about the Coconut Road interchange in Bonita Springs. That’s in Lee County, Florida, not Alaska, and no Lee County officials were interested in building the interchange. Nonetheless, Alaskan Rep. Don Young inserted a $10 million earmark in the 2005 highway bill to build it.

Asked about it last June, “Mr. Young responded with an obscene gesture,” according to the New York Times. That might have been a mistake:

The Senate moved yesterday toward asking the Justice Department for a criminal investigation of a $10 million legislative earmark whose provisions were mysteriously altered after Congress gave final approval to a huge 2005 highway funding bill.

In what may become the first formal request from Congress for a criminal inquiry into one of its own special projects, top Senate Democrats and Republicans have endorsed taking action in connection with the earmark that Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), former chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, inserted into the legislation.

“It’s very possible people ought to go to jail,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees highway funding.

Young’s office says that a $40,000 campaign contribution from local developers had nothing to do with the earmark. It was added solely because Young was blown away by the awesomeness of their technical presentation explaining why the interchange would be a boon to the Lee County economy. Just goes to show how persuasive a good PowerPoint presentation can be, I guess. Somebody tell Bill Gates.

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