'150 Miles of Runways' and NextGen Part of Spending Plans

President Obama addressed the nation on Labor Day with an infrastructure renewal program that included significant plans for aviation. The plan, which will span the next six years, would involve extensive overhauls of highways, bridges and other infrastructure, but also include restoring "150 miles of runways" and advancing "a next-generation air traffic control system to reduce travel time and delays for American Travelers." Though sure to attract his skeptics, Obama said the program "will be fully paid for" without adding to the federal deficit "over time." The administration has yet to reveal details on how much of the spending would benefit general aviation. Among those skeptics is Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He said only about a third of the stimulus money earmarked for aviation projects from the first round has been spent, due to projects being "bogged down" by government red tape. AOPA President Craig Fuller, however, said, "AOPA will work to support the President's infrastructure program to ensure the monies are used effectively at airports across the country and to advance the modernization of the air traffic control system as part of the FAA's NextGen initiative." Fuller went on to stress that Congress and the President should heed the importance of the general aviation segment to our nation's economy when it comes time to map out the details of where the funds are to be distributed.