Airports around US receive $1 billion in federal infrastructure funds

Airports around the country are set to undergo major upgrades thanks to nearly $1 billion in grants awarded by the federal government. The funds, which come from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure act, will be used to modernize and improve the country’s air travel infrastructure.

A total of 114 U.S. airports will benefit from the grants, which will be distributed over a five-year period. The money is specifically allocated for the Airport Terminal Program, one of several aviation-oriented aspects of the overall infrastructure law.

The projects that will be funded by the grants cover a wide range of improvements. These include the installation of new, faster and more efficient baggage systems, the expansion and enhancement of security checkpoints, the construction of new terminal buildings, the expansion of ground transportation areas, and the refurbishment of air traffic control towers.

During a press conference at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighted the importance of even seemingly mundane projects in improving the overall travel experience. He mentioned that while most people may not think about jet bridges, they can significantly impact passengers’ experiences if they encounter issues with them.

Among the airports receiving funding, Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) will use $35 million to construct a new 14-gate terminal building. Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) will receive $20 million to expand Concourse B, which serves most airlines apart from Delta. The largest award of $40 million goes to Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) for connecting the airport’s terminals post-security, making navigation easier for passengers and potentially allowing for more connections.

The grants also aim to make airports more sustainable and resilient to severe weather conditions caused by climate change. For example, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) will receive $7 million to fund the construction of a new foundation for one of the airport’s major connector roads, which has eroded due to flooding.

Smaller airports were not left out, as Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) in Florida received $10 million for terminal refurbishment, and Standing Rock Airport in Fort Yates, North Dakota, was granted $700,000 for a new general aviation terminal building.

In total, the grants will fund 118 projects at 114 airports across 44 states and three territories. The Department of Transportation (DOT) aims to improve the air travel passenger experience, especially in response to frustrations expressed by Americans following the pandemic.

Under the Biden administration, the DOT has proposed various consumer protections, including limits on additional fees charged by airlines, hotels, and other travel service providers. The agency has also issued record fines to airlines for service disruptions and has been vocal about addressing the air traffic controller shortage.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressed the agency’s commitment to making travel more reliable and navigable for all travelers, regardless of their frequency of flying.

The grants for airport upgrades represent a significant step towards modernizing the country’s air travel infrastructure. By investing in improved facilities and services, airports can enhance the travel experience for passengers and contribute to the overall growth and development of the aviation industry.

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