BY KIMBERLY PIERCEALL
STAFF WRITER
kpierceall@pe.com

Published: 16 December 2011 03:49 PM

The Department of Transportation is taking back $10 million it promised the city of Highland to fund road improvements affecting San Bernardino International Airport, according to a Dec. 8 letter from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to Highland’s public works director.

The letter said the agency had learned about the FBI-led investigation of possible wrongdoing at the airport from “publicly available sources,” and cited that as the reason the grant was withdrawn.

Letter from Sec. of Transportation to city of Highland

On Sept. 21, the FBI raided the offices of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, the airport’s developer and the developer’s residence looking for evidence of bribery, conspiracy and other possible crimes.

The discretionary Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER II, grant was awarded Oct. 20, 2010, to improve 5th Street from Highway 210 where it meets up with Del Rosa Drive.

“Given these changed circumstances, the Department does not believe that the Project will be able to serve its intended purpose, which was to attract additional air service to the airport and stimulate an increase in economic activity that would create and preserve jobs,” LaHood wrote.

The reason given to Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, was a little different.

Jim Specht, spokesman for Lewis, said the transportation secretary told Lewis that his department was facing a deadline to spend the money and that as long as the airport was tied up in a federal investigation, no federal funds could be spent on the airport’s behalf.

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