FAA To Invest Nearly $1 Billion in U.S. Airport Infrastructure

The awards going to the 99 airports are funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was signed into effect in late 2021.

Several grants are earmarked to address the needs of aging air traffic control towers, FAA said. [Credit: Adobe Stock]

If you have traveled by air in the last six months, you have probably noticed the uptick in air traffic since the pandemic. The FAA has noticed it as well and is awarding nearly $1 billion for President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to 99 airports to pay for improvements to make them more efficient, as well accommodating to the traveling public.

The funding is part of the Airport Terminal Program, which is one of three aviation programs created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed into effect by Biden in November 2021. The law codifies a $25 billion investment into U.S. airports and FAA facilities in the name of maintenance, reducing congestion, and modernizing the National Aerospace System. Investments include $5 billion for facilities and equipment, $15 billion for the Airport Infrastructure Grant Program, and $5 billion for the Airport Terminal Program.

The law provides $1 billion for Airport Terminal Program grants each year, for five years. 

On the ground side, projects earmarked in the latest awards include new baggage systems, larger security checkpoints, improved ground transportation, improved accessibility for individuals with disabilities, and increased terminal sustainability.

On the airside, several grants are earmarked to address the needs of aging air traffic control towers.

The money is destined for airports in 47 states and two territories.

‘‘Americans deserve the best airports in the world, and with demand for air travel surging back, this funding to improve the passenger experience couldn’t come at a more urgent time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These grants will make it faster and easier to check your bags, get through security and find your gate, all while creating jobs and supporting local economies.”

The Projects

Many grants will be used to update, expand, or build new airport terminals, including:

  • $10.8 million to Des Moines International Airport (KDSM) in Iowa to begin the replacement of the 1940s-era building that is currently operating above capacity.
  • $29 million to Salt Lake City International Airport (KSLC) in Utah to assist with a phased-in terminal and north concourse development that will add 16 new gates and five permanent hardstand positions.
  • $10 million to Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (KSRQ) in Florida for a terminal expansion that will add new security checkpoint lanes, gates, and an energy-efficient power plant.
  • $6.5 million to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (KSAV) in Georgia to expand security screening facilities to reduce wait times for travelers.
  • $50 million to O’Hare International Airport (KORD) in Illinois for improvements to the 60-year-old terminal by reconfiguring TSA checkpoints, adding restrooms, making the facility more ADA compliant, and improving the passenger baggage system.
  • $5 million to Columbia Metropolitan Airport (KCAE) in South Carolina to expand the terminal to add another TSA security screening checkpoint.
  • $16 million to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (KSEA) in Washington to relocate the Security Checkpoint 1 from the ticketing level to the lower baggage claim level, which will provide additional screening capacity and reduce wait times.

Several airports will be receiving grants to upgrade baggage facilities or expand their terminals, including:

  • $4.4 million to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (PANC) in Anchorage, Alaska.
  • $4.3 million to Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport (KLAW) in Lawton, Oklahoma.
  • $38 million to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (KBWI) in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • $5 million to Bradley International Airport (KBDL) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.
  • $13.3 million to Key West International Airport (KEYW) in Key West, Florida:

Tower Upgrades

Six grants have been awarded to airports to refurbish their air traffic control towers. Among those are:

  • $500,000 to Chennault International Airport (KCWF) in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for the replacement of the exterior metal panel rain screen to protect the tower’s electrical, mechanical, and communication equipment.
  • $4.5 million to Rosecrans Memorial Airport (KSTJ) in St. Joseph, Missouri, to relocate the existing tower above the 100-year floodplain and reconstruct it to be more energy efficient and more energy compliant.
  • $2 million to Albany International Airport (KALB) in New York to upgrade and replace the existing tower's mechanical, electrical, and HVAC building systems.

General Aviation Grants

Some of the grants are targeted for improvements that serve the general aviation community, including:

  • $950,000 to Ashley Municipal Airport (KASY) in North Dakota to construct a new 500-square-foot general aviation terminal building for passengers and flight crews.
Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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