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Shelby announces local airports will receive $20.8 million in FAA funding for improvements

Small white airplane taking off on a sunny day

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, announced that five local airports across the state of Alabama will receive $20.8 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants.

The funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation for various airport improvements to support infrastructure construction, safety advances, and equipment acquisition.

“This FAA funding will significantly improve the functionality, safety, and efficiency of these airports,” Shelby said. “It is vital that we continue to make important infrastructure investments in Alabama to ensure the growth of local communities and future economic success. I look forward to witnessing the positive impact that these aviation advancements will have on our state.”

The Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which was passed and signed into law last year, provided FAA an additional $1 billion in discretionary grants.

The grants range from $8.1 million for the Lanett Municipal Airport to $1.04 million for the Scottsboro Municipal-Word Field Airport. This is the second round of funding of the initial appropriation.

The five FAA grants, totaling $20,827,532, will support five airport projects in Alabama.

Lanett Municipal Airport in Lanett, Alabama will receive $8,100,000 for the extension of a runway.

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The Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport in Centre, Alabama has been awarded $5,552,000 for construction of a taxiway.

The Franklin Field Airport in Union Springs, Alabama received a grant award of $3,866,048 for construction of a runway.

The Vaiden Field Airport in Marion, Alabama is getting $2,262,634 for the continuation of construction on a parallel taxiway.

Scottsboro Municipal-Word Field Airport in Scottsboro, Alabama – $1,046,850 for the rehabilitation of an apron. The apron, or tarmac, is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled or boarded.

Airport Improvement Program grants can be used for planning, development or noise compatibility projects a individual public-use airports (including heliports and seaplane bases). A public-use airport is an airport open to the public that also meets the following criteria: publicly owned, or privately owned but designated by FAA as a reliever, or privately owned, but having scheduled service and at least 2,500 annual enplanements.

To be eligible for a grant, an airport must be included in the NPIAS. The NPIAS, which is prepared and published every 2 years, identifies public-use airports that are important to public transportation and contribute to the needs of civil aviation, national defense and the Postal service.

Eligible grant activities are capital items serving to develop and improve the airport in areas of safety, capacity and noise compatibility. In addition to these basic principles, a sponsor must be legally, financially and otherwise able to carry out the assurances and obligations contained in the project application and grant agreement. Eligible projects include those improvements related to enhancing airport safety, capacity, security and environmental concerns. AIP funds can be used for most airfield capital improvements or rehabilitation projects and in some specific situations, for terminals, hangars and non-aviation development. Certain professional services that are necessary for eligible projects, such as planning, surveying and design, can also be eligible. The FAA must be able to determine that the projects are justified based on civil aeronautical demand and meet federal environmental and procurement requirements.

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Shelby is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which authored and advanced the FY2018 measure that included these FAA grant resources. Shelby is currently serving in his sixth term in the U.S. Senate.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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