ET Truck Stop Gets $424,000 Stimulus, Goes Bankrupt

From The Tennessean:
In July, Tennessee’s transportation commissioner applauded the opening of the state’s first truck- stop electrification terminal at TR Auto Truck Plaza in Dandridge, a project taxpayers paid for with a $424,000 federal stimulus fund grant.
Thursday, the shiny new equipment languished uselessly as U.S. Bank took possession of the bankrupt business after an auction at the Jefferson County Courthouse failed to solicit a single bid.
While not as spectacular a flop as Solyndra — the California solar panel manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy last month after receiving a $535 million guarantee from the federal government — the truck stop’s collapse further illustrates flaws in the way stimulus projects were evaluated that extended to the state level.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Department of Transportation approved the stimulus grant to Mountain Plaza Inc., the truck stop’s owner, despite many red flags. The company, whose creditors included the state and federal governments, filed for bankruptcy protection in the middle of the process. A review of public records shows evidence of the company and its owner’s past and present financial troubles was readily available.
TDOT officials stress that the department was simply passing along the federal grant funds it had applied for and that no state money was involved.
…Mountain Plaza’s grant was part of $2 million that TDOT received from the EPA as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The money was doled out to truck-stop electrification projects along Tennessee interstate corridors. The systems reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality by allowing truckers to hook up to air conditioning and electricity so they can shut down their engines.

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