Millions of dollars in federal stimulus money are going to low-priority airports with questionable economic value and a history of mishandling grants, according to an advisory released Monday by the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The report follows an investigation by ProPublica and CBS News last month that found more than $100 million was being directed to airports that have fewer than one flight an hour – including one serving an Alaskan village of 167 people.
In the four-page memo, the inspector general said the Federal Aviation Administration selected low-priority projects for stimulus money to ensure that every state got at least one airport project. The office advised the FAA to withhold grant money for the projects until it can justify the economic merit. And it called for a full audit of stimulus airport grants.
In a response, Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari said the FAA relied on long-standing rules to pick “prudent, high-priority projects” and noted that the report highlighted a small percentage of the 263 stimulus projects.
Here's the local connection:
The other low-priority projects cited by the inspector general were a $5 million taxiway in Findlay, Ohio; a $2 million runway extension in Wilbur, Wash.; a $2 million apron in Warrensburg, Mo.; and a new runway at an airpark in Dover, Del.
“The Dover project was chosen because it was the state’s only project that was ‘ready to go,’ ” the report said.
Judicial Watch clarifies that the funding for the Dover project (a figure omitted above) was just below $1 million [it's $909.806], and says:
Other stimulus-funded projects at remote facilities that didn’t qualify include nearly $5 billion for a new taxiway in Findlay Ohio, $2.2 million for a runway extension at Wilbur Airport in Washington, $2 million for an apron at Missouri’s Warrensburg-Skyhaven Airport and nearly $1 million to design a runway at a small Dover, Delaware airport. None of the facilities have commercial passenger service and have extremely limited operations, the inspector general points out.
That new runway would give the Dover Airpark exactly two runways.
Dover Airpark is controlled by DRBA.
What's interesting is that I can't find any local coverage of this issue.
Truth in advertising disclaimer: the Dover Airpark is the home airfield for the DSU Airway Science Program.