$2.5 Billion Airport Improvement Program in Limbo as FAA Shuts Down
By IB Times Staff Reporter
Construction projects underway at airports across the U.S. have come to a halt following the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) closure last Friday. As per official estimates, the Airport Improvement Program across the fifty states is pegged close to $2.5 billion.
The FAA closure will cause a lapse in funding that has already put a stop to construction work that is underway at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport, Palm Springs International Airport, Calif., Pennsylvania’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, Kalamazoo, Mich., Michigan’s Battle Creek International Airport, Mississippi’s Gulfport-Biloxi International and New York City’s LaGuardia Airport.
A majority of the multimillion-dollar initiative under the FAA are scheduled to upgrade and modernize current facilities at these airports. If aborted for a longer term, these aviation projects would most likely burden taxpayers; also result in increased construction costs.
The $43 million new Terminal Radar Approach Control project or TRACON is an important project that would control air traffic over airspace across Texas and Louisiana. Scheduled to be inaugurated in 2013, this new control tower would replace a 40-year-old structure. In a bid to handle larger aircraft, FAA had plans to grant around $8 million to $15 million for upgrading Bush’s air taxiways. Although money has been set aside for the upgradation, grants such as these are under fire as staff members processing these have already been furloughed.
In the absence of suitable grants from the FAA, one way to finance airport improvement costs would be to seek funding from the airlines. This would most likely force airlines to pass on the construction cost to passengers.
The FAA’s partial stalemate is also likely to put a spanner on airport approvals in procuring new generation super large aircraft. The absence of any reconciliation between the FAA and the Senate Democrats as a fallout of the $16.5 million cut in federal subsidies for air service to small airports in 13 rural areas has forced the FAA to furlough nearly 4,000 workers across 35 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico; a majority of these are construction workers.
In an official announcement, the FAA has listed closure of funding for a number of projects:
- Las Vegas, Nevada: A more than $43 million project to build a new air traffic control tower at McCarran International Airport. Contractor: Archer Western Contractors.
- Palm Springs, California: A $24.5 million project to build a new air traffic control tower at Palm Springs International Airport. Contractors: Swinterton Builders.
- Oakland, California: A $31 million project to build a new air traffic control tower at Oakland International Airport. Contractor: Devcon Construction.
- Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: A more than $18 million project to build a new air traffic control tower at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport. Contractor: Donald J. Keating Co.
- Kalamazoo, Michigan: A more than $14 million project to build a new air traffic control tower at Battle Creek International Airport. Contractor: Skanska.
- Gulfport, Mississippi: A nearly $12 million project to build a new air traffic control tower at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Contractor: Flintco, Inc.
- Queens, NY: A more than $6 million project to demolish the old air traffic control tower at LaGuardia Airport. Work was supposed to begin on Saturday. Contractor: Paul J. Scariano Inc.
Additionally, the FAA has issued stop-work orders for $370 million in contracts with Jacobs Engineering of Pasadena, California. The company is contracted to do all the architect, design, engineering and planning services for existing and future air traffic facilities.
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