Invoked in the name of public safety, the project is actually a transparent attempt to tap already scarce hurricane reconstruction funds so the rail bed can be replaced by a touristy “beach boulevard” long sought by Mississippi to aid the casino industry and coastal developers. The railroad relocation dwarfs the $223 million “bridge to nowhere” proposed for the Alaska outback, the giveaway that brought all the vows for reform from Congress.
Even worse, Senator Lott and his fellow Mississippi Republican, Thad Cochran, are attaching this frivolous add-on to a bill that is supposed to be used to pay for emergencies — specifically the war in Iraq and hurricane reconstruction.
Senator Lott angrily resents any description of his pet project as a right of way to the slot machines. He insists the rail line needs higher ground and his constituents better protection. But it seems clear the twin traumas of Iraq and Katrina are being used as cover. Economic development is a fine goal for the Gulf Coast, but it deserves careful consideration, not a devious rush to the pork barrel.
Sounds about right to me.