DoT Under the Sequester: Fewer Airlines Flights, More Lego Houses

Martinsburg Lego Transportation ProjectPoor Ray LaHood. The administration shoved him in front of the cameras over the weekend to join the Sequester Panic Chorus even though his agency is a wwasteland of waste and frivolity. let us thank Jim Geraghty for plucking a few of the ways LaHood’s agency throws our money at silly vanity projects from the public record.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is lamenting that his department will need to make drastic cuts that will immediately impact air traffic controllers and airport security lines. A quick perusal of Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s last annual Waste Report showcases a bunch of grant programs that could be cut or eliminated immediately to generate significant savings.

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Let’s start at the Federal Highway Administration, and eliminate the National Scenic Byways Program entirely. Forever.

You’re asking, “the what?”

The National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) is authorized by 23 U.S.C. § 162, and has been reauthorized and continued through March 31, 2012. The NSBP recognizes roads having outstanding scenic, historic, cultural, natural, recreational, and archaeological qualities. NSBP funding supports projects that manage and protect these intrinsic qualities, interpret these qualities for visitors, and improve visitor facilities along byways.

In fiscal 2012, roughly $20,600,000 were available for grants.

How does that money get spent?

Thirty-thousand Lego pieces, paid for with a $3,700 National Scenic Byways grant, are being assembled to build a miniature replica of a historic downtown street in Martinsburg, West Virginia.The 18-footlong display will depict Queen Street as it likely appeared in the 1920s and ‘30s.1020 It is expected to be a permanent exhibit at the “for the kids, by George” Children’s Museum, which will showcase George Washington’s “adventures in the Eastern Panhandle” of West Virginia. The museum is primarily funded with a $290,000 National Scenic Byways grant awarded by the Federal Highway Administration.

Yes, I can see how its more important to buy Legos for the city of Martinsburg, WV rather than pay air traffic controllers or ensure our flights take off safely and on-time.

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