Spinners and Winners
The Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pa., is a prime example of taxpayer spending that refuses to die. Representative John Murtha steered some 150 million of taxpayer dollars to this eponymous airport over the last decade and despite the fact he died more than a year ago, the money keeps on coming.
Three years ago, we first visited the tiny airport, and found a monument to pork barrel spending: An airport with a $7 million air traffic control tower, $14 million hanger, and $18 million runway big enough to land any airplane in North America. For most of the day, the only thing this airport doesn't have is airplanes.
We flew there on one of three flights that arrive there daily, all of them from Washington D.C. About half the cost of every ticket, $100, is paid by American taxpayers, a subsidy Congress voted to renew just this past February.
The place had a shiny new luggage carousel, a state of the art tower, and some very bored air traffic controllers -- but very few passengers. The place is a tribute to the power of its namesake; everything from the reinforced runway to the radar facility to the new terminal, are all thanks to Democratic Congressman John Murtha, who died more than a year.
But the taxpayer subsidies that made his airport possible continue to flow. Since our visit, the Murtha airport has received from the federal government $559,476 in stimulus funds to rehab a back-up runway, $82,551 for air guidance signs, $226,638 to improve the taxiway, $19,412 wildlife hazard assessments, $95,950 and $62,325 to install weather reporting.
Which goes to show the power of a mighty Congressman can last long after he's gone.
- John Murtha