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Wine train 'waste' allegations anger Napa

Townsfolk in Napa say Sen. John McCain of Arizona has uncorked sour information about their wine town in a new report on alleged waste of federal stimulus dollars.

McCain and fellow Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma came out with a report listing 100 projects that raised questions about "silly and shortsighted" federal spending.

The Napa Valley Wine Train, which ferries tourists about, was listed at No. 11. "While some major U.S. cities have still not been fully protected from the possibility of catastrophic flooding, engineers are hard at work to relocate the Napa Wine Train to prevent just that," the report said.

The sarcastic description of a Napa project to prevent flooding is "flatly wrong," said Barry Martin, public information officer for the Napa River Flood Control Project.

Fox News hosts and personality Glenn Beck, Martin said, went on to mock the wine train as an example of vintage government waste.

"You can't unring the bell for people once an impression gets out," Martin said, although Napa wine and city representatives are trying.

The real story, Martin said, is that Napa is involved in a nine-year project to protect the city from floodwater. That means relocating tracks on which the wine train travels, elevating or building several new bridges and reshaping channels from the Napa River.

The $54 million in stimulus money to move the tracks is necessary, Martin said, before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can excavate new channels to divert water. "It's not as if the wine train is benefiting from this, except for not being flooded like everyone else," Martin said.

A portion of track is owned by the wine train, Martin said, noting the train is legally a public utility and the tracks are used to move freight as well as wine tasters.

No one in McCain's offices in Washington and Arizona could be reached for comment.


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