The list by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., includes projects others would identify as ideal for creating jobs and benefiting generations of Americans: skateboard parks, streetscapes, upgrades of park facilities, bike trails and parking garages.
Coburn's list is partially a collection of news stories that questioned local projects to be funded under President Barack Obama's economic recovery program. The White House has promoted the program by selecting favorable newspaper stories.
One of the most fiscally conservative senators, Coburn cited the repair of 37 rural bridges in Wisconsin that average little more than 500 vehicles apiece each day; with one carrying no more than 10 cars a day. The projects jumped over larger, urban repairs because they were "shovel ready."
Local officials had a different perspective. Coburn, for instance, criticized $840,000 to repair a bridge in Portage County, Wis., that carries 260 vehicles a day largely to a backwater saloon and a country club.
Bill Weronke, the county highway commissioner, said the bridge has "lived its life expectancy" and is dangerous. "It's a pretty crucial bridge in Portage County," he said. He added it soon will be a shortcut to a state highway.
Coburn also criticized a $3.4 million Florida Department of Transportation project for an "eco-passage"; an underground wildlife road crossing for turtles and other wildlife in Lake Jackson, Fla., along U.S. 27.
"Why did the turtle cross the road? To get to the other side of a stimulus project," the Coburn report says.
Josh Boan, the Florida Transportation Department's natural resources manager, said a large number of turtles and other wildlife are killed in the area. In addition to protecting wildlife, he said the project is needed for safety: turtles hit by vehicles can become flying projectiles.
The project north of Tallahassee is to begin in September.
An administration spokesman said the stimulus program already is a great success.
Ed DeSeve, senior adviser to the president for Recovery Act implementation, said, "We have approved more than 20,000 Recovery Act projects to get America's economy moving again.
"With 20,000 projects approved, there are bound to be some mistakes. When we find them, we have been transparent about it, and worked on a bipartisan basis to shut them down immediately. Sen. Coburn's report, however, is filled with inaccuracies, including criticisms of projects that have already been stopped, projects that never were approved, and some projects that are working quite well."
Coburn also criticized: