As money begins to flow to “shovel ready” infrastructure projects from the federal stimulus package passed last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation has allocated the first funding for a general aviation airport out of the $1.1 billion allotted for airport improvements.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced March 12 that two Pittsburgh-area airports will receive a total of $12 million from the package, officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. A $2 million allocation for Allegheny County Airport, a general aviation airport, will renovate a taxiway and relocate a ramp.
“The money will definitely be put to good use,” said Dave Shaw, airport manager at Allegheny County. “Not only will it straighten out the taxiways, but it will also make space in the upper-west ramp for future development to allow us to continue to grow and thrive.”
Across the nation, communities are looking to infrastructure improvements as a way to create jobs and stimulate local economies. Many areas with GA airports will receive an extra boost from the $787 billion package, for projects such as taxiway improvements, additional lighting, and the construction of aprons. The $1.1 billion allotted to airports is in addition to money provided for airports by the FAA’s regular Airport Improvement Program.
LaHood also announced that Pittsburgh International Airport will receive $10 million to repair Runway 14/32. Other projects are expected to follow closely on the heels of the Pennsylvania airports; half of the funds for airport infrastructure must be obligated by June 17.
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 organize and present GA airport projects that would qualify for infrastructure funding. As a result, several states increased their lists of airport projects ready to begin construction immediately—and now the shovels are about to break ground.