Stimulus Waste? The $3.4 Million Turtle Crossing

Before approving a second stimulus, some say spend the first billions properly.

ByABC News
July 9, 2009, 4:17 PM

July 10, 2009— -- As the Obama administration tests the waters for a second massive government stimulus, critics are questioning the effectiveness of the first $787 billion program, which they say is moving at a turtle's pace and includes some absurd and wasteful pork projects.

The president's economic advisors said that the administration did not anticipate the severity of the recession and that it might now be necessary for the government to pump more money into the economy to prevent further job losses.

But critics say that the $787 billion stimulus isn't being spent fast enough and some of the projects approved are frivolous and do nothing to stimulate the economy. Before we dig the country further into debt, they argue, we should wait and see how the first stimulus plan works.

"I don't think we need to have another stimulus bill. I think we need to change this one so that we spend the money right now," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who has been critical of the plan.

Then there are the questionable projects.

For instance, the Florida Department of Transportation wants to spend $3.4 million in stimulus money for a turtle tunnel. That's right, $3.4 million to help turtles cross under a highway. Each year, 1,035 turtles are killed on a half-mile stretch of highway north of Tallahassee, according to The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance, a group advocating for the tunnel. They are hoping to use the stimulus dough to save the turtles.

Across the country in Montana, a border crossing that averages fewer than two passenger cars a day and two to three trucks a month is slated to get $15 million in stimulus funds for upgrades.