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FAA Pledges $76 Million to 8 Airports Hours After Obama Speech

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Closer to Siberia than to Anchorage, Alaska's tiny Ralph Wien Memorial Airport received a $15 million grant for runway improvements. (Image by FAA)

The Department of Transportation dispatched a deluge of press releases Friday afternoon, announcing nearly $76 million in grants to eight airports for expansion, repair and safety improvement projects — less than a day after President Barack Obama pledged more infrastructure investment during his Democratic nomination acceptance speech.

“I will use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work — rebuilding roads and bridges and schools and runways, because after two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation building right here at home,” said Obama, a familiar mantra that we’ve heard from the President before.

We routinely get emails like these about FAA Airport Improvement Program grants, but we don’t remember ever receiving more than two in a day, nevermind seven. The first press release, about a $4.8 million grant for apron expansion at Dayton (Ohio) International Airport, arrived at 1:48 pm ET, roughly 14 hours after the President’s speech. Five more arrived in the next 20 minutes, and the last press release landed at NYCA at around 4:23pm.

Cynics will argue that this was a politically orchestrated media dump purposely timed to closely follow the speech. Supporters will claim that it’s an example of Obama putting his money where his mouth is. There’s also a solid possibility that the timing was purely coincidental.

No matter the case, you won’t hear us complaining about aviation infrastructure improvements, even if they are small potatoes compared to what is truly needed to improve the nation’s strained and aging air transport system.

Here’s a list of the grants announced today:

  • $4.8 Million for Dayton International Airport (Ohio): To expand the apron area around the terminal. Completion of the project will create clear line of sight between the control tower and the aircraft movement area near the terminal.
  • $10 Million for Fort Worth Alliance Airport (Texas): Part of a multi-year project, already underway for years, to extend the runways at Fort Worth Alliance Airport to 11,000 ft in length. Involves moving a highway and railroad tracks.
  • $3.2 Million for Indianapolis International Airport (Indianapolis): For construction of a de-icing containment facility.
  • $9.6 Million for Orlando International Airport (Florida): To rehabilitate Runway 18R/36L, realign Taxiway A and to purchase an aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle.
  • $6.9 Million for Portland-Hillsboro Airport (Oregon): To replace the 20-year-old pavement on Runway 2/20, to move a runway threshold to provide pilots with better views of an intersecting runway, and to reconstruct and move Taxiway C to enhance safety.
  • $7.1 Million for Venice Municipal Airport (Florida): To reconstruct Runway 4/22 and allow for improvement of the runway safety area to meet FAA standards, and a taxiway project to provide the recommended separation between the runway and taxiway.
  • $18.4 million for Van Nuys Airport (California): To rehab the entire 8,000 ft runway over nine months.
  • $15.5 Million for Ralph Wien Memorial Airport (Alaska): To expand runway safety areas by moving the water-surrounded Runway 9/27 200 ft to the east, which involves moving a lagoon and a hill and building a new sea wall.

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