We’re Paying for Airports to Nowhere

Bridges to nowhere are common. Where I live, there are a lot of sidewalks to nowhere. I suspect they are part of Obama’s failed “shovel ready” projects. Put people to work pouring concrete where nobody ever walks. Genius.

Bridges and sidewalks to nowhere are like nearly everything politicians do: spend money to buy votes.

Bridges and sidewalks are nothing compared to airports that have few passengers and even fewer routes. The latest is the St. Cloud Regional Airport in Minnesota:

The St. Cloud Regional Airport is banking on a recently announced $750,000 federal grant to land an airline at the airport that’s been virtually deserted since Delta terminated service in and out of St. Cloud in late 2009. Despite a $5 million makeover of the terminal two years ago, St. Cloud’s airport has mostly sat idle as the city desperately seeks new commercial airline partners. St. Cloud received $750,000 in federal stimulus funding to assist with a portion of the renovation, but the project has thus far amounted to a passenger boarding bridge to nowhere.

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St. Cloud is chicken feed compared to the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport. You may remember the late John Murtha, a pork-barrel Democrat Congressman from Pennsylvania. He worked overtime to get an airport built near his home so he could get a direct flight to Washington. The airport cost $150 million. This doesn’t count the day-to-day expenses for upkeep. Here’s how ABC News reported on the boondoggle (You know it’s a boondoggle if ABC News did a story on the airport in a Democrat’s district):

The John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport has an impressive $18 million runway made of reinforced concrete that’s big enough to land any airplane in North America. The airport also has a $7 million air traffic control tower, a $14 million hanger and $8 million radar. Most of the time, the only thing the airport doesn’t have is airplanes.

An average of just 20 people a day flew out of the Murtha Airport last year [2008]. But, the airport was just awarded more federal money — $800,000 in stimulus funds to repave an alternate runway.

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The federal government provides a subsidy for every flight into the Murtha Airport of about $100 dollars per passenger, but even with the subsidy, there are plenty of empty seats.

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People in the district will tell you that they love the airport. There are no lines. Of course there aren’t; there are only three flights each day, to two cities: Altoona, Pa, and Washington, DC. How did Murtha get it built? He promised some other Congressmen that if they vote for his boondoggle, he’ll vote for theirs. Why do these guys care? It’s not their money.

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