“Thankfully, the shortage of dollars on the entitlement side was made up on the discretionary side.”
And there are some airports that are just holding off entirely. The Findlay (OH) Airport has delayed a taxiway relocation, hoping to see funding come through for the project next year.
Quad City Airport in Moline, Ill. also has projects on hold, including $3 million replacement for concrete panels on the primary air carrier runway, and $2 million for dirt work of a new taxiway and temporary runway.
In any case, Airport Consultants Council vice president T.J. Schulz says this year’s funding runs contrary to how FAA has set up the funding system.
Mike Devoy, ACC Board of Governors Chair and vice president of RW Armstrong, agrees. “You can’t plan. It’s so contradictory to what the FAA has set up to where you have to have a five-year [capital improvement programs]; you have to show what your projects are going to be; you have to cost them out; you have to get them prioritized; you’ve got to get them all lined up and now you don’t know what the funding is. So you’ve got this nice little plan that kind of gets thrown into turmoil.”
Schulz says the best strategy for airports is to be proactive, and be prepared. “Airports operating in this era of short term delays and stop and start of funding, they just need to have their ducks in order and make sure their grant approval papers are ready to be approved immediately by FAA.”
Schulz also notes that while changes in funding have sent airports scrambling, contractors may be moving on.
“[Contractors] start dedicating their resources and personnel to [other] projects, and when airports have their bids ready, lo and behold there aren’t many contractors out there responding to them.”
Ben DeLeon, director of airport planning and programming at the airports office of FAA, says funding that is available is getting through the system quickly. The only issue seems to be the bid process.
Devoy agrees. “The problem with doing these extensions is we went from not knowing if these projects were going to happen to having to get bids on hand and having to get them under contract in July. So it caused a lot of stress in the system.”
DeLeon at FAA attributes much of this year’s success to the agency’s partners in the industry. “They’ve all been down this road before.”
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The Bush budget plan fails to provide enough dollars to fund the industry's capital needs.
The Bush budget plan fails to provide enough dollars to fund the airports' capital needs.