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Highway Expansion

Transport Bill Earmark to Help Road Project in Palin’s Hometown

Sarah Palin is no longer the governor of Alaska, but a project long championed by the 2008 vice-presidential nominee -- and staunch earmark critic -- stands to benefit from an earmark inserted into the transportation spending bill that cleared Congress over the weekend.

625_araup_11.1235152104.standalone.prod_affiliate.7.jpgSarah Palin, then Alaska governor, with husband Todd at the Wasilla, AK, airport. (Photo: ADN.com)

Among the bill's $4 billion-plus in earmarks was $500,000 for an apron expansion at the airport in Wasilla, the Alaska town that Palin led for six years and still calls home. The earmark, requested by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), is one of 75 that lawmakers directed to airport construction projects.

The airport was a mayoral priority for Palin, who won federal money to help pave its runway in 1999. But Alaska budget documents [PDF] describe the Wasilla apron expansion as a necessary piece of the puzzle to help the town build a new road connecting the airport with an elaborate sports complex that Palin made a personal goal, sparking a property dispute that lingered even after her resignation in July.

The new airport road "is waiting for the construction of the aprons over the next three years before the road can be completed due to large excavations," according to the state budget plan. When built, the road is projected to cut the travel distance from downtown Wasilla by just 3 miles.

To put the Alaska earmark in perspective, cash-strapped streetcar planners in Charlotte, NC, also got $500,000 in the 2010 transportation spending bill, as did Fort Lauderdale's downtown circulator buses.

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