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Three U.S. Airports Receive Airport Improvement Grants
The United States Department of Transportation has announced three U.S. airports are the recipients of the first Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement grants of 2021.
$76 million will be divided among Chicago O’Hare International, Dallas-Fort Worth International, and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International. The $76 million is the first batch of about $3.2 billion available annually through the Airport Improvement Program.
The Airport Improvement Program provides grants for the planning and development of public-use airports included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. The NPIAS is published biannually and identifies public use airports important to public transportation and contributes to the needs of civil aviation, national defense, and the postal service. A public-use airport has to be publicly owned. However, there are exceptions that allow privately owned airports to qualify for AIP grants in some cases; if a privately-owned airport has been designated by the FAA as a reliever airport or has scheduled service and at least 2,500 emplacements, it can still qualify for an AIP grant.
According to the FAA, the grants received by O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (issued under the terms of previously issued letters of intent by the FAA committing to grant funding over multiple fiscal years) will be used for major projects. O’Hare’s $25 million grant will be used to pay for work on the construction phase of Runway 9C/27C, which opened in November of 2020. Dallas Fort-Worth’s $31 million grant will be used for an improved taxiway system, anticipated for completion in 2025. The taxiway system will allow for taxiing around the end of a runway instead of having to cross it. Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood’s $20 million grant will be used to pay for the extension of Runway 10R/28L, a project which was completed back in September of 2015.
New United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spoke positively about the grants in a statement: “Modernizing our nation’s infrastructure is a top priority for President Biden’s economic agenda, and the Airport Improvement Program allows airports nationwide to upgrade and improve the safety of their facilities,” he said. “These improvements – at some of our nation’s busiest airports – will serve our communities and the traveling public as we start to build our country back better.”
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson also commented on the grants in a statement, “each airport project provides a benefit to the National Airspace System through safety and capacity enhancement,” he said. “As a former airline pilot, I can attest firsthand that the traveling public is best served when the system handles demand without unnecessary delays.”
According to the FAA, these three grants are the first of over 1,500 that will be issued in 2021.
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