Biden Administration provides US$1bn to improve airport terminals

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The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award approximately US$1bn from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to 85 airports across the US to improve their terminals.

The funding is from the Airport Terminal Program, one of three aviation programs created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law provides US$1bn annually for five years for airport terminal grants. The grants are intended to expand capacity, increase energy efficiency, promote competition and provide greater accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Two grants will also be awarded to build new air traffic control towers.

According to the government, 70 grants contain an element that will expand terminal capacity. Most notably, these include developments at Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport in Tennessee, Huntsville Intl-Carl T Jones Field Airport in Alabama and Orlando International Airport in Florida. Pittsburgh International Airport will invest US$20m in the construction of a 65,000mlandside terminal adjacent to the existing airside terminal. This includes an improved passenger security screening checkpoint and checked baggage inspection system, baggage handling equipment, US Customs and Border Protection area, and associated public spaces and support functions to serve passengers and meet the operational needs of the airport.

At Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, US$5m will be invested in Phase 1 of a terminal expansion project that will expand its second level by approximately 2,500m2 to provide space for two new gates, one expanded gate, a new set of restrooms and additional passenger queuing, holdroom and circulation space. This phase will also reorient the TSA Checkpoint to create room for an additional screening lane and expand the terminal rotunda to provide adequate passenger queuing space. The project will increase terminal capacity, improve ADA accessibility, increase energy efficiency, promote airline competition and create jobs.

Huntsville Intl-Carl T Jones Field will receive US$10m to replace aging elevators, escalators and mechanical equipment; add one elevator and three escalators; construct new terminal and concourse restrooms, family restrooms, nursing rooms and a service animal relief area; expand terminal public areas; and complete ticket counter modifications. The project will provide more amenities for passengers, increase capacity, achieve ADA compliance, boost energy efficiency, improve accessibility and create construction jobs.

Finally, Orlando International Airport will use US$50m to construct four gates capable of serving either four wide-body or eight narrow-body aircraft. The project is expected to increase capacity, provide ADA-compliant facilities, achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and provide for increased competition.

Furthermore, 76 grants contain an element that will increase terminal sustainabilityAmong them are Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas, Boise Airport in Idaho, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington and Bishop International Airport in Michigan. At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, US$35m will be used to construct a zero-carbon electrical central utility plant to assist the airport in achieving its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Phase 1 will construct the facility and cover two of five terminals. Boise Airport will use its US$960,000 investment to install energy-efficient boilers to support Boise’s clean energy goal. The funds will also be used to replace aging skylight infrastructure with new skylights that will be more energy efficient.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will put US$10m into Phase 3 of a restroom modernization that will be ADA compliant and include energy-efficient lighting, low-flow fixtures and refillable water bottle stations and service animal relief areas.  Bishop International Airport will use its US$3.5m to replace the terminal roof, which has failed in many places. It will be replaced with energy-efficient materials, including improved insulation. This will result in decreased heating and cooling needs and reduced energy consumption.

Following these investments, 47 grants will go to improving airport access for historically disadvantaged populations and rural airports. Among them is Dexter Regional Airport in Maine, Washington Municipal Airport in Iowa, Chamberlain Municipal Airport in South Dakota and Fillmore County Airport in Minnesota.

 Dexter Regional Airport will use US$760,000 to build a new 74m2 terminal building and replace the existing 50-year-old 18.5m2 terminal building. This includes the reconstruction of the access road. According to the government, the existing terminal building is beyond its useful life and does not meet current standards or needs for a basic general aviation terminal building. It also does not meet ADA requirements and energy efficiencies. The new terminal building is intended to enhance and meet all these needs and requirements. This project provides access to improved terminal facilities for a disadvantaged population area in this rural part of Maine.

At Washington Municipal Airport (AWG), US$129,675 will be used to install a solar power system and associated electrical efficiency enhancements for the general aviation terminal. Chamberlain Municipal Airport’s US$855,000 investment will construct a new general aviation terminal. This project will replace an existing annex to a fixed base operator (FBO) building that is currently being used as a general aviation terminal. The existing facility does not meet ADA requirements or the needs of the airport. Fillmore County Airport will use its US$950,000 to replace a facility that was constructed in 1981 that is in poor condition and does not meet ADA requirements.

Alongside these investments, 73 grants work to provide greater access to individuals with disabilities. Among the airports benefitting are Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minnesota and Austin Bergstrom International Airport in Texas.

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport will use its US$14.4m to expand and update its existing temporary terminal space with a permanent five-gate, ADA-compliant facility. Similarly, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will invest its US$7.1m in replacing its five passenger boarding bridges and relocating one passenger boarding bridge. This project will modify walkways, ramps and slopes to make better use of space and meet ADA requirements. The new boarding bridges are also designed to be more energy efficient. Austin Bergstrom International Airport in Texas will use its US$15m to complete Phase 2, which includes needed capacity expansion immediately and infill for future expansion for the medium hub on the cusp of the large hub. In addition to capacity, the project will improve access, with hearing loops, wayfinding and multi-lingual assistance, plus assistive care restrooms and ADA compliance throughout. LEED Silver goal projects include energy-efficient systems, glass tinting and sustainable energy construction.

One grant will increase multimodal transportation access. That grant goes to Gainesville Regional Airport in Florida, which will use its US$1.67m investment to improve a multi-modal ground transport facility. This project includes lighted, accessible, covered walkways to the commercial airline terminal, a covered passenger waiting area, accessible restrooms and queuing lanes for taxis and city buses arriving and departing the terminal. The project will reduce curbside congestion, increase ADA accessibility, improve accessibility for historically disadvantaged populations and provide construction jobs.

Pete Buttigieg, the US Transportation Secretary, commented, “Americans deserve modern airports that meet the needs of their families and growing passenger demand. Funded through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, today’s grants will improve airport terminals while also creating good jobs in communities across the country.”

Bradley Mims, FAA deputy administrator, said, “The work that goes into building safer, more accessible and sustainable terminals will provide opportunities for people across the nation. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a critical investment not only in our nation’s infrastructure but in the future of our country’s workforce.”

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