House advances legislation seeking to speed up airport infrastructure projects

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Legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), designed to expedite airport infrastructure projects passed through the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Wednesday.

The legislation, The Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2021, would allow airports to use up to $1 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to incentivize public agencies and other organizations to complete the planning, development, and execution of projects at airports early. The goal is to deliver projects like runways and taxiways quicker and cheaper to the American people.

“Now that vaccines are being distributed and administered across the country, we need to make sure our airports are ready to handle the pent-up demand from decreased travel over the last year – whether vacations, leisure, or business trips. This legislation takes successful, existing road project programs and implements the same efficient practices to get airport improvement projects completed faster, meaning we will improve the efficiency and capacity of our airports while handling a runway or taxiway that is temporarily out of service,” Graves, the ranking member of House Aviation subcommittee, said. “Overall, this is a win-win for airports and taxpayers alike. I’m looking forward to seeing this bill result in more efficient use of taxpayer funds, better flight options, and improved aviation safety.”

The bill would optimize airports’ ability to leverage the AIP to improve their facilities up and running faster, Graves’ office said in a release. Under current law, airports cannot use the AIP fund to incentivize early completion, even if the early completion results in significant capacity or efficiency gains for the airport. Early completion incentives are common in surface transportation projects.

The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.