Taxpayers on hook for Bo's Bridge boondoggle
Even in a state known for political boondoggles like a Taj Mahal courthouse and an unneeded aircraft hangar, the Garcon Point Bridge stands out.
Nicknamed "Bo's Bridge" for its biggest backer, former House Speaker Bolley "Bo" Johnson, the bridge over eastern Pensacola Bay was built using bogus traffic projections, faulty financing and shoddy construction practices. The day it opened in 1999, it had already incurred hefty fines for environmental destruction. Now Bo's Bridge is broke, and the taxpayers are likely to be stuck with millions of dollars in debt.
The bridge's owner, the Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority, owes its bondholders $90 million. It owes the state Department of Transportation more than $24 million. The amount in its bank account: $4 million.
State officials have said the bridge authority is so broke that it couldn't afford to mail out notices of its meetings. But that's not a problem because the board hasn't met in nearly a year. Once federal investigators began poking around, all but one member quit.