Watchdog questions airport projects

Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2009

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration used economic stimulus money to pay for 50 airport projects that didn't meet the grant criteria and approved projects at four airports with a history of mismanaging federal grants, a government watchdog said Monday.

Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel said he plans to examine the Federal Aviation Administration's process for selecting programs for the $1.1 billion in grant money.

Among the projects that Scovel said didn't meet the FAA's minimum score was $14 million that went to Akiachak, an Alaska town of 659 residents, to replace its airfield. The town has a seaplane and is only 14 nautical miles from the state's fourth busiest airport.

Nearly $15 million went to another Alaska town, Ouzinkie, that has 167 residents, to replace its gravel runway. The town has a float-plane landing area in its harbor. Barges also provide cargo delivery from Kodiak, 10 miles away.

Other projects Scovel said didn't meet FAA's threshold were $4.8 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 Warrensburg-Skyhaven Airport in Missouri, and $909,806 to design a new runway at a small airport near Dover, Del. He said those airports don't provide commercial passenger service and have limited flight operations.



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