DOT Awards Almost $1 Billion in Airport Improvement Program Grants

Jerry Ashworth
September 24, 2019 at 14:27:35 ET
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Airports are definitely big business! Case in point: the Department of Transportation (DOT) this week awarded almost $1 billion to more than 350 airports to 44 states, and in Puerto Rico and Micronesia, for airport infrastructure projects. We here are used to reporting on multi-million dollar grant awards, but those that approach $1 billion always peak our interest a little more than others.

To be specific, DOT issued $986 million to 354 airports under the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program, which was the fifth allotment of about $3.14 billion in funding available for the program. Selected recipients will use awarded funding for projects such as runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, construction of firefighting facilities, noise mitigation, emissions reduction and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons and terminals. DOT noted that the construction and equipment supported by this funding will increase the airports' safety, emergency response capabilities and capacity, and could support further economic growth and development within each airport’s region.

For those keeping count, there are with 3,332 airports in the U.S. and 5,000 paved runways. According to the FAA’s most recent economic analysis, U.S. civil aviation accounts for $1.6 trillion in total economic activity and supports nearly 11 million jobs. Airports can receive a certain amount of Airport Investment Program entitlement funding each year based on activity levels and project needs. If their capital project needs exceed their available entitlement funds, FAA can supplement their entitlements with discretionary funding.

Among the recipients of the funding are Burlington International Airport in Vermont, which received $16 million in grant funds to reconstruct Taxiway G; International Falls Airport in Minnesota, which received $15.9 million to reconstruct Runway 13/31; and the Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania, which was awarded $13.4 million to reconstruct Taxiway K. In addition, St. Louis Lambert International Airport in Missouri received about $1.5 million under the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) program to install four pre-conditioned air and ground power units to reduce emissions on the airport; and the San Francisco International Airport in California was awarded $6.4 million to reduce noise around the airport by installing noise mitigation measures for residences affected by airport noise. A complete list of recipients can be found here.

When going on vacation, I often hear “Safe Travels!” from my colleagues. Hopefully these funds will help improve the chances of safer, smoother and more convenient travels.

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