• The Airport For Nobody

      The infamous "Bridge To Nowhere" eventually got so much attention that it was canceled.

      But the "Airport For Nobody" still happened. It's official title is the "John Murtha Airport", named after the congressman -- fitting, because only a politician spending someone else’s money would ever build something like it. Tyler Grimm reports:

      If you hate the hubbub of crowded airports, you might want to consider flying out of Johnstown, Pa. The airport sees an average of fewer than 30 people per day, there is never a wait for security, you can park for free right outside the gate, and you are almost guaranteed a row to yourself on any flight.

      You might wonder how the region ever had the air traffic demand to justify such a facility. It didn't. But it is located in the district of one of Congress's most unapologetic earmarkers: Democrat John Murtha.

      There are a total of 18 flights per week, all of which go to Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. I was visiting the airport from Washington, but because flights cost a pricey $400, I drove. The drive took less than three and a half hours and cost about $35 in gas...

      The airport has an $8.5 million, taxpayer-funded radar system that has never been used. The runway was paved with reinforced concrete at a cost of more than $17 million. The latest investment was $800,000 from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to repave half of the secondary runway. (Never mind that the first one is hardly ever in use.)...

      The usually barren airport—there were several times during the day I paced the building for 15 minutes and did not see another human being—has a lot of unused advertising space. But you can't miss the large picture of John Murtha among a collage of Lockheed Martin workers at the airport's center...

      Tickets to fly to Johnstown are expensive, even though every passenger flying out of John Murtha Airport has a $100 subsidy behind the ticket courtesy of the federal Essential Air Service program, which provides support to struggling rural airports. A woman who had just gotten off a flight told me that there were only four people on her plane. "The plane could have held at least 30 passengers," she said.

      It galls me that politicians repeatedly get away with such shameless self-promotion.

      Of course, recipients of your largess defend the airport.

      Johnstown Chamber of Commerce President Bob Layo tells me: "If the airport isn't paying dividends now, it will in the future."

      Airport Director Scott Voelker admitted in an interview that having a never-used unmanned radar system is "dumber than dirt." But he says the airport is necessary and blames its current shortcomings on the economy."

      Give me a break. When they start investing their own money, I'll listen.

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