What are you thankful for this holiday weekend? The re-election of the Muslin in the White House? That Ol’ Handsome Joe Biden is still driving his bitchin’ Camaro up and down Pennsylvania Avenue? That drunk Uncle Fred is behind bars awaiting trial on a DUI? Hookers and coke?
The people of Akutan, Alaska, have much to be thankful for. Oh so very much. About $100 million reasons to be thankful! Or sort of not thankful, and annoyed! Either way!
This is the Akutan airport:
Akutan, 766 miles southwest of Anchorage, has a year-round population of 75. But more than 1,000 seasonal employees work at the Trident Seafood fish-processing plant, described as the largest such facility in North America.
For years, air service was provided by PenAir (ed. note: heh!). The small Alaska airline used a World War II-era Grumman Goose, an amphibious aircraft, to land in the harbor and taxi up a ramp on the shore of the town. The age and operational costs of that airplane led officials to start planning a new land airport in 1999.
The steep terrain on volcanic Akutan presented obstacles. So authorities looked to uninhabited Akun Island, six miles away.
The airport cost $75.5 million dollars. To access it,
suckers passengers had to board a hovercraft — we are not sure if it was full of eels — and take a $100 ride to the new airport.
Did we mention the hovercraft has failed epically in other Alaskan waters? The hovercraft has failed epically in other Alaskan waters.
The airport opened September 1, 2012. It closed November 4, 2012! About the only good news that can be said about the whole debacle is that there have been no plane crashes. Not even a mØØse bite.
But an airport to nowhere, that could happen to anyone. How about a harbor to nowhere as well?
Over the last two years, Knik Construction has converted what was once a flat stretch of tundra at the end of Akutan Bay into a full-size boat harbor.
“We’ve excavated almost a million cubic yards of material,” says project manager Craig Bauld.
For now, the harbor is mostly just a big hole in the ground. While the construction team has finished its work, there’s still no electricity, no running water, and no floats. There’s also no road from the village, which is two miles away, so the only way to access the boat harbor is by boat. That means the harbor is cut off from the village’s grocery store, post office and fuel dock. Steve Boardman is head of the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil projects division. He says the transportation situation is unusual.
This harbor to nowhere that will service the town that can’t even get its mail any longer for a plant that won’t be able to get rid of all the fish that are stinking up its shelves cost $29 million and was built on spec: “If you dig it, they will come,” if you will. Dig it?
But where did that money come from?
You might recall a big brouhaha over a program that President Obama signed that provided…and we at Wonkette Central want to make sure we get the language correct…
grift money to shut critics up a stimulus to the economy by funding shovel-ready projects as well as education, energy assistance and other social services.
You know, for the kids!
The money for this harbor was approved in early 2009 by the then-governor of Alaska, who decided that the need for an unnecessary harbor for a town smaller than your local subdivision was huge enough to betray principles of not accepting stimulus funds, but that education was much lower down the list.
We salute you, Grifter-In-Chief!