February 19, 2009
By Sarah Brown
The $787 billion economic stimulus bill signed by President Barack Obama this week includes $1.1 billion for airports, and the states are ready and waiting to take advantage of the funding with lists of “shovel ready” projects to improve the nation’s general aviation airport infrastructure.
As the stimulus plan was first being developed by the administration and congressional leaders late last year, AOPA sprang to action, urging state and local officials across the country to identify, organize, and present GA airport projects that would qualify for infrastructure funding through the stimulus plan. With the help of its regional representatives, AOPA contacted governors, aviation directors, and other transportation officials to communicate the importance of general aviation and to identify specific state needs. As a result, several states increased their lists of airport projects ready to begin construction immediately.
In Ohio, the Department of Transportation informed AOPA Eastern Regional Representative Greg Winton that the association’s message led the state to increase its list of aviation infrastructure projects from $10 million to $38 million. In some states, like Nevada, AOPA advocacy prompted the department of aviation to create and organize a list of projects at their GA airports. Bill Thompson of the Nevada Department of Transportation surveyed state airport managers and aviation officials as a result of his communication with AOPA, and they came up with a list of projects for GA airports that totaled $70.2 million for 43 projects in 2009.
Victor Bird, Oklahoma director of aviation, said the funding will allow his state to start work this year on several critical airport projects that would have otherwise been delayed another year or two.
”Investing in transportation infrastructure is the best investment we can make in our country’s future,” Bird said. “The $1.1 billion additional investment in aviation infrastructure across our country will create or save 38,500 jobs and expedite the construction of badly needed capital improvements at our nation’s airports.”
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