PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Progress on eliminating the “Road to Nowhere” in Tennessee and North Carolina, thanks to newly elected Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler:
Former Rep. Charles Taylor, R-N.C., strongly favored the road and secured $16 million in Congress to resume construction. That money in 2000 was the beginning of an environmental study that is still not complete.
What’s happened now is that Tennessee and North Carolina members of Congress have presented a proposal in a letter to the Interior Department, suggesting a final decision within 90 days. This final decision, according to the letter, would mean not finishing the road and using the $6 million left over from the environmental study for a down payment on the financial settlement with Swain County.
The united front among the congressional members from Tennessee and North Carolina is due in part to the fact that Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., defeated Taylor in November. Shuler grew up in Swain County a mile from what popularly is called the Road to Nowhere, and he won the election in part by strongly opposing the road and favoring the settlement.
“This letter asks for a reasonable settlement which will maintain the undisturbed wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and save the American taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Shuler, a former University of Tennessee and National Football League quarterback.
In Tennessee, Sen. Lamar Alexander, who grew up in Maryville near the mountains, also is a strong opponent of the road.
It’s never seemed like an especially good idea to me. And yes, this is more evidence of how piggishness on pork helped cost the GOP control of the House.