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National Briefing

Washington, D.c.

Airport grants are criticized

August 11, 2009|Times Wire Reports

The administration used economic stimulus money to pay for 50 airport projects that didn't meet the criteria for the $1.1 billion in grant money, a government watchdog said.

Among the projects that Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel said didn't measure up was $14 million that went to replace an airfield in Akiachak, Alaska, a town of 659 residents. The town has a seaplane and is only 14 nautical miles from the state's fourth-busiest airport.

Another Alaska town, Ouzinkie, population 167, got nearly $15 million 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.

Transportation Department Deputy Secretary John Porcari said the grants criticized by Scovel were part of an effort to help small airports meet safety standards.

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