Aviation

US awards $968.6 mln for projects to refurbish airport terminals

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The US Transportation Department on Thursday awarded $968.6 million to 85 airport projects to address the country’s aging and often mocked aviation infrastructure.

Some projects will fund new terminals, boost gate capacity, add air traffic control towers, jet bridges, new bathrooms, baggage claim belts and reconfigure security checkpoints.

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The five-year $5 billion airport terminal grant program was approved by Congress in November as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure law.

“Airport terminals are not something the federal government has historically invested in -- it’s typically been local airport owners and airlines that have done that. But the need is evident,” White House infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu told reporters.

US airports have often fared poorly in worldwide comparisons and occasionally received ridicule from foreign visitors.

“America is a country that brought modern aviation to the world and yet around the world in most rankings of airport quality, not one of our airports rank among the Top 25,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, arguing no one could look at US airports and say “the existing system and existing levels of funding have been adequate.”

Among projects getting funding: $50 million for Los Angeles International to reconstruct its terminal roadway system and reconfigure a central entrance; $62 million for Boston to renovate the existing 1974 Terminal E facilities and replace arrival roadways; $50 million for Orlando to build four new gates and $40 million for Atlanta to widen, update and modernize the 40-year-old Concourse D.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport will get $49.6 million to fund new restrooms, baggage claim belts and replace some passenger boarding bridges. Airports in Montana serving Yellowstone and Missoula will receive $21 million for replacement terminal building construction. Dallas-Fort Worth Airport is getting $35 million to build a new zero-carbon electrical utility plant.

Then Vice President Joe Biden in 2014 compared New York’s LaGuardia Airport to “some third-world country.” In June, New York celebrated LaGuardia’s six-year $8 billion reconstruction that was funded in large part by American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

“Come see this, President Biden, because your jaw is going to drop,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.

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