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Airport Construction Funding Soars

Wed June 29, 2022 - National Edition #14

Airport Improvement Program awards include 416 grants to airports across the country to a variety of projects.
Airport Improvement Program awards include 416 grants to airports across the country to a variety of projects.
Airport Improvement Program awards include 416 grants to airports across the country to a variety of projects. Airports are vital to local economies, said Pete Buttigieg, U.S. transportation secretary. Millions also have been approved at the state and local levels for airport projects to address critical need. Airport construction projects will be abundant for the next several years, which means contracting opportunities are immediately available.

In early June, the FAA announced awards of more than $5 million to enhance safety and accessibility at U.S. airports. The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) awards, which include 416 grants to airports across the country, will fund a variety of projects. Improved facilities, repairs to runways, airfield maintenance and equipment purchases all fall under the second round of the 2022 awards.

"In communities of all sizes, airports are vital to local economies, sustaining jobs and getting people and goods where they need to go," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

"We're investing $518 million so communities big and small can continue to safely and efficiently connect with the rest of the world," said Shannetta Griffin, FAA associate administrator for airports.

On top of the AIP grants, millions more approved at the state level for airport projects and bonds passed by local government entities will address critical need.

Construction at America's airports will be "abundant" for years to come.

Mary Scott Nabers, president of business development company Strategic Partnerships Inc., believes America's airports are "some of the country's most powerful economic engines."

They contribute more than $14 trillion in economic activity annually and support approximately 11.5 million jobs, she noted.

"Now that funding is available, an abundance of upcoming opportunities will soon be announced," said Nabers.

Long Project List

The AIP grants list covers regional and municipal airports, such as Heber Springs Municipal in Heber Springs, Ark., which was granted $1 million to extend the Runway 6/24 safety area an additional 300 ft.

The grant funds the final phase of the project to enhance the safety of operations at the airport.

La Crosse Regional Airport, La Crosse, Wis., will see $765,000 to purchase a new Class 4, 1,500-gal. aircraft rescue fire-fighting vehicle. The replacement vehicle is required to meet FAA safety requirements under 14 CFR part 139.

Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield, Ill., will receive $7 million to complete the final phase of its Runway Incursion Mitigation program.

The FAA notes that the project reconfigures three runways that currently intersect, improves the airfield layout of the associated taxiways, and provides funds for other related infrastructure improvements.

"This project will help reduce the likelihood of runway incursions at the airport," said the agency.

Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, Pa., will receive $7.9 million to fund the final construction phase of the airport's work to rehabilitate 7,600 ft. of Runway 6/24 pavement and existing Runway 6/24 lighting system.

"The infrastructure has reached the end of its useful life and the work will enhance safe airfield operations during low-visibility conditions," said FAA.

More than $13 million will go to the James M. Cox Dayton International Airport in Dayton, Ohio, to rehabilitate 54,000 sq. yds. of the existing terminal apron. The seventh phase of a 10-phase project, the rehabilitation will help maintain the apron pavement's structural integrity.

Yellowstone Airport, in West Yellowstone, Mont., will receive $2.6 million to construct a new 36,000-sq.-ft. terminal building. It is designed to accommodate increased passenger demand as well as to meet Transportation Security Administration and Americans with Disabilities Act design standards.

More than $5 million is earmarked for installation of 4,000 ft. of drainage improvements at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Savannah, Ga. Designed to handle storm water runoff, the project will reconfigure the terminal area water runoff to meet storm-water retention requirements.

Faribault Municipal-Liz Wall Strohfus Field Airport, Faribault, Minn., will receive just more than $430,000 to rehabilitate runway lighting systems to include upgrading to LED runway and taxiway lighting. The installation of LED lighting and guidance signs will reduce energy consumption and environmental impact compared to standard lighting.

At the Naples Municipal Airport in Naples, Fla., $3.5 million is set aside to improve 684,400 sq. ft. of the airport's existing drainage system. The project's goal is to eliminate ponding on airfield surfaces to meet FAA design standards, according to FAA. Recommended by the Wildlife Hazard Management Plan, it regrades the infield area between Runway 5-23 and Taxiway A and installs culverts for drainage.

At Cyril E. King Airport in Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands, more than $12 million is earmarked for rehabilitation of 7,000 ft. of the existing Taxiway A to maintain the structural integrity of the pavement and to minimize foreign object debris. The project has a total of five phases. Phase 2 funds the west 3,300 ft. of the 7,000-ft. taxiway. Future phases will fund the design and construction of the remainder of the taxiway.

Pullman Regional Airport, North Pullman, Wash., will receive $7 million to create more space in the terminal for additional vendors. The terminal also will open up opportunities for cargo, charter and business aviation. This will generate an estimated 55 to 60 new jobs after terminal construction is complete.

And, at the Lake Charles Regional Airport, Lake Charles, La., $1 million will fund construction of an arrivals canopy for the airport's new 4,424 sq. ft. terminal. Both the arrivals and departures canopies are part of the final phase of a four-phase project that will increase passenger throughput at the airport.

"The FAA has awarded a total of $1.1 billion of the $3.2 billion total funding available in Fiscal Year 2022," reported the agency.

Major Airports Addressed

Airports in major American cities will see improvements as well, said Nabers.

For instance, the San Antonio International Airport will build a third terminal for an estimated $2.5 billion.

"The concept design outlines how traffic growth will be managed over the next several years," Nabers wrote for AviationPros.

Immediate projects will include construction of the terminal that will feature up to 17 additional gates and an extension of the airport's existing runway, she said.

"Work will include construction of a ground transportation center, a new parking garage, and terminal road realignments."

Approximately $230 million in airport system revenue bonds sold by Hawaii's Department of Transportation will fund essential airport modernization projects.

Design work is under way for projects to improve and enhance hold rooms for several gates in the main terminal. The work includes installing additional seating, expanding queue spaces, improving climate control measures and enhancing flight information displays. More responsive fire alarm systems, renovated bathrooms and more efficient lighting also are in the works. Construction could begin as soon as 2024.

At the Nashville International Airport, $1.4 billion in construction and renovation projects is earmarked.

Over multiple phases, the modernization plan includes projects to extend two concourses, construct additional gates, install new moving walkways and add concessions options.

"A new air freight facility will be constructed to offer more effective support for airline cargo operations," said Nabers. "The plan features an upgraded, more precise, and enhanced secure baggage handling system."

She said design is scheduled to begin in August and construction will begin with extension of Concourse D in late 2023.

Southwest Florida International Airport, between Tampa and Miami, will modernize its central terminal for greater operational efficiency and improved passenger experience, said Nabers.

"Earlier this summer, the Lee County Port Authority initiated design work for a new concourse, which is expected to cost $331 million," she said. "The project will be the second-largest public works initiative in Lee County's history."

The project will consolidate three security checkpoints and leverage technology improvements to streamline passenger processing, said Nabers.

Preliminary plans include construction of new vehicle lanes for departing and arriving passengers, modernized airline ticket counters, new restrooms, and expanded aircraft parking.

"An early, tentative construction timeline suggests that work could wrap up as early as 2025 or as late as 2027," she said.

At Miami International Airport plans are to modernize facilities to accommodate a recent uptick in passenger traffic.

The $85.9 million project will address recent strain on overall parking capacity with construction of a new parking garage.

Design work is under way on the project that will soon lead to 1,861 new parking spaces, 16 "pay-on-foot" systems in centralized locations throughout MIA parking facilities and several "find-my-car" locator systems. Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2023 and finish by July 2025.

The local airport authority is developing a multi-phase plan to modernize the Des Moines International Airport. The first phase is expected to cost $448 million.

"The airport has already exceeded its long-term passenger forecast, and it has become especially congested under the weight of recent population growth," said Nabers.

According to the authority, the airport needs 17 new gates by 2032 to meet the next wave of airport traffic forecasts.

"That need has inspired the plan to modernize the airport with an entirely new terminal."

Increasing passenger volume will be addressed in several modernization projects underway at the Billings International Airport in Montana.

A new parking structure at the airport, with designated space for car rental companies and a section for public parking, is the largest project. The $25 million project is scheduled for construction in 2024. A smaller $4.5 million project to modernize its cargo facilities with construction of an expanded cargo ramp is set for 2023.

The Trenton-Mercer Airport in New Jersey's Mercer County is being eyed for an expanded main terminal, approximately five times the current size, to increase the facility's total number of inbound and outbound flights. Modernization efforts will include four new passenger aircraft parking spaces, new hold room facilities, terminal apron improvements, 10 new ticket counters, three security screening lanes, expanded baggage claim facilities and new concession options. Mercer County officials anticipate that construction of the project, which could cost between $109 million and $163 million, will launch sometime in 2023.

"Airport construction projects will be abundant for the next several years, and contracting opportunities are immediately available in almost every state in the country," said Nabers.

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