FAA shutdown threatens Armstrong Airport safety projects
by Ben Myers, Staff Writer July 26th, 2011 ·
The partial Federal Aviation Administration shutdown is into its fourth day, and a prolonged stoppage of work orders will jeopardize basic safety and maintenance projects at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport if it doesn’t end soon.
That’s because the shutdown cuts off access to the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, an annual grant program that is currently paying for runway pavement and lighting at the airport, among other projects.
“We are not talking about beautification here,” Armstrong Aviation Director Iftikhar Ahmad said. “These are all safety-related projects.”
Ahmad said he hasn’t received guarantees the airport will be able to continue to draw from a $13 million appropriation the federal government made last fall. He did not immediately know how much still remains to be drawn but said he is concerned about the possibility of having to issue a stop-work order. That would cost money, Ahmad said.
Additionally, the airport just released solicitations for about $15 million of work that would be paid for through this year’s round of AIP grants. The projects include installation of a security fence, construction of a taxiway and a fire truck. Bids are due in the next week, and federal grant awards were expected soon thereafter.
“Those bids were supposed to be approved by the FAA,” Ahmad said. “If they are shut down, what is going to happen to those millions of dollars worth of contracts? I couldn’t tell you. ”
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