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FAA to Give Arkansas Airports Nearly $28M for Upgrades

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is giving nearly $1 billion to 85 airports to expand and upgrade terminals and other facilities, using money approved in last year’s huge infrastructure bill.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the projects will help meet future demand for travel and make flying safer and more efficient.

“I don’t think anybody could look at airports across America today and say that the existing system and existing levels of funding have been adequate,” Buttigieg told reporters.

The grants announced Thursday are the first installment of $5 billion for airport projects that were included in an infrastructure bill that Congress approved and President Joe Biden signed last November.

Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport received $13 million in Airport Terminals Program funds to increase energy efficiency and infrastructure for people with accessibility needs. Improvements include building an upper level walkway bridge, replacing and adding escalators, and updating its baggage system.

Texarkana Regional Airport received $5 million from the Airport Terminals Program to build two new passenger boarding bridges that will increase passenger capacity and improve accessibility. 

Additionally, more than $9.9 million in Airport Improvement Program grants were awarded to the following projects in Arkansas:

  • Saline County Regional Airport in Benton, seal runway pavement surface, $225,000
  • Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Bentonville, expand apron, $3.89 million
  • Arkansas International Airport in Blytheville, conduct/update study on runway rehabilitation, $208,800
  • Clarksville Municipal Airport, construct taxiway, $72,000
  • Clinton Municipal Airport, construct taxilane, $67,313
  • J. Lynn Helms Sevier Airport in De Queen, construct taxilane, $66,513
  • Boone County Airport in Harrison, install airfield guidance signs, $299,250
  • Heber Springs Municipal Airport, construct/extend/improve safety area, $1.09 million
  • Hot Springs Memorial Field, improve airport drainage/erosion control, $411,125
  • State of Arkansas, develop new state regional system plan or study, $200,000
  • Malvern Municipal Airport, extend runway/seal runway pavement, $1.21 million
  • Manila Municipal Airport, shift or reconfigure existing taxiway, $445,436
  • Melbourne Municipal Airport, install weather reporting equipment, $315,000
  • Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport, extend taxiway/shift or reconfigure existing taxiway, $67,500
  • Osceola Municipal Airport, install runway visual guidance system, $225,810
  • Ozark/Franklin County Airport, reconstruct runway lighting/reconstruct taxiway lighting/reconstruct airport beacon, $370,466
  • Rogers Executive Airport – Carter Field, seal taxiway pavement surface, $650,800
  • Smith Field in Siloam Springs, rehabilitate runway lighting/runway $112,500
  • Walnut Ridge Regional Airport, reconstruct runway lighting, $65,880

The largest of the Federal Aviation Administration grants include $60 million to improve the terminal and replace the bag-handling system at Denver International Airport, $50 million apiece for Boston’s Logan Airport and Orlando International Airport in Florida, $49.6 million for Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C., to build a new concourse and $20 million for Pittsburgh International Airport to build a new terminal next to the old one.

The main airports in Detroit and Philadelphia will get more than $20 million each to renovate their restrooms.

The FAA said 532 airports submitted applications for 658 projects that, if all had been granted, would have totaled more than $14 billion.

In the past, federal funds have gone largely into runways, taxiways and towers while airports paid for terminal upgrades with money they get from passenger facility charges, or PFCs — up to $4.50 per flight that is tacked onto every airline ticket.

Buttigieg said it is fine to spend taxpayer money on projects that were generally funded by passenger fees in the past because “there is a need out there; taxpayers expect it and want it.”

Congress could consider raising ticket taxes for airport projects next year. Airports want to raise the fees, but airlines don’t.


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