Remember how the stimulus package was passed so quickly legislators complained no one had time to actually read the thing?
We’re already starting to see the fruit: Road-building provisions in the stimulus will see $11 million go to what Bloomberg News is calling the ‘Bridge to Microsoft’ — a highway overpass to connect two parts of Microsoft’s (MSFT) wooded Washington State corpotate campus.
At first glance, it seems pretty outrageous. But in Microsoft’s defence, we note the company had already planned to suspend building new facilities, meaning without the extra $11 million a new highway overpass would probably not be built for years, contributing to what we’re told is heavy congestion in Redmond. (But we bet traffic here in New York is worse.)
Bloomberg’s report — read the whole thing:
Microsoft Corp., which has $20 billion of cash in the bank, is among the first in the Puget Sound area to benefit from the investment in roads and bridges through President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan.
Local planners allotted $11 million of $214 million awarded to the region to help pay for a highway overpass in Redmond, Washington, connecting one part of Microsoft’s wooded campus with another. The world’s largest software maker will contribute almost half of the $36.5 million cost. Other federal and local money will pay the rest.
Work is scheduled to begin by June, while larger projects in the area await funding, including replacing an elevated highway in Seattle damaged by a 2001 earthquake and a bridge over Lake Washington at risk of cracking in a windstorm. Spending watchdogs and even some Microsoft employees see more pressing needs.
“I’m sure Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates could finance this out of pocket change,” Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said of Microsoft’s chief executive officer and chairman. “Subsidizing an overpass to one of the richest companies in the country certainly isn’t going to be the best use of our precious dollars.
“It’s a bridge to Microsoft,” he said.
White House reps say the project is “under review,” meaning politicians will probably move to cover their rears and deny the project ever got past the proposal stage if there’s an uproar.