Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hilarious Winona PRT Earmark Request

Winona Daily News:

U.S. Rep Tim Walz has received requests for more than $280 million in earmarks for Winona-area projects, including $25 million to test transit technology in Winona...


One of Congress' most vocal proponents of transparency in the earmark process, Walz invited residents to submit online comments at on the proposed earmarks in what he called a "virtual hearing." He had received more than 700 responses as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, Severs said, and comments submitted through 5 p.m. today will be considered as Walz determines which projects to submit to the appropriations committee.

Download the Winona appropriation request (PDF) #87 here. I've posted a few excerpts below (click on the screenshots to make them bigger).

A while back the Winona Post ran a story with this headline:

Firm pledges millions to Winona pod car test lab (01/24/2010)
A private company that has developed a futuristic pod car transit system has pledged millions to Winona’s bid for a test lab to be the first to prove such a transportation system works.

Taxi 2000, based in Fridley, Minn., has offered to cover the required 20 percent match to a $24.9 million federal grant Winona will apply for. City leaders are backing the proposal, which would bring Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) to be studied in Winona, aiming to bring jobs and business to the first success of a transit vision first dreamed of in the 1950s.

According to the Winona earmark request, the millions of dollars pledged by Taxi 2000 appear to be an in kind contribution:

"Taxi 2000 (a private Minnesota-based PRT company) has already contributed $5 million (20% match) to the project in preliminary engineering, preparing technology, constructing component prototypes and testing control system software."

Did part of that $5 million go to create this wacky contraption?

And an admimssion that a "pure" PRT system does not yet exist in "a real world setting".

Here is Winona Mayor Jerry Miller's letter requesting the earmark (click to enlarge):

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