The federal government sank more than $180,000 of taxpayer dollars into driving simulators for the Corvette museum — which fell victim to a sinkhole earlier this month.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky received $180,050 in federal Transportation Enhancement funds to develop and deploy a driving simulator.
The project was authorized in November 2007 for $198,00 but ended up costing $225,063 — relying on federal funding and an additional $45,013 in local funds — and was fiscally closed in April 2012.
Katie Frassinelli, a Corvette Museum marketing manager, explained to TheDC that the funding went into “a portion of two interactive educational driving simulators” which the facility got in 2009.
“The Museum paid more than $200k out of pocket as it was a matching grant,” she explained in an email. “With these simulators we offer free teen driving courses, international driving courses, older driver courses through the NCM Drivers’ Safety Academy.”
Frassinelli added that the simulators offer the capability for people to practice things that cannot be road tested, like dealing with a blow out tire and wheel drop off, as well as different weather conditions.
Last week the National Corvette Museum made headlines when a sinkhole formed under the facility and swallowed eight of the cars in the museum.
“I was stunned,” Butch Hume, president of Louisville’s Falls City Corvette Club told USA Today. “What a terrible place for it to happen.”
Years before the museum received national attention due to the sinkhole, the museum fell into the sights of waste hawk, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn.
Coburn in 2011 used the museum as an example of waste and urged the Senate to adopt an amendment to a transportation bill that would have allowed states to prioritize spending and eliminate the mandate that forces states to spending federal funding on “Transportation Enhancements.”
“How about the National Corvette Museum Simulator Theater in Warren County, KY — $200,000 to build a grand simulator theater,” he said in a floor speech at the time. “Mr. President, 31 percent of the bridges they cross in Kentucky are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.”