Republican leaders on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) are hoping to help spur expedited airport construction projects under a new bill that facilitates the use of incentives for early completion of runways and other such work. Introduced by T&I committee ranking member Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and aviation subcommittee ranking member Garret Graves (R-Louisiana), the Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2021 (H.R. 468) would make early construction completion incentives eligible for federal grants through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).
The bill reverses a stumbling block in place for use of AIP funds for incentives, taking an approach in use for road and bridge projects, the lawmakers said. Under the bill, the incentives must be for projects that would increase capacity and efficiency and result in cost savings as a result of the shortened project. In addition, the bill would cap the incentives to 5 percent of the initial construction cost or $1 million, whichever is lower.
“This is a proven, smart reform that already works for road and bridge project construction,” Sam Graves said. “Delivering airport projects ahead of schedule can help save money and essentially provide a similar impact as increasing investment without any additional federal resources.” Graves noted that similar legislation had gained House support last year but was not acted on in the Senate. “I look forward to now moving it through both Houses of Congress and seeing it signed into law.”
Garret Graves added that the bill is a “win-win” for airports and taxpayers. “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.”
The Airports Council International-North America and the American Association of Airport Executives jointly offered support for the legislation. “Their proposal coupled with additional funds that airports need to pay for debt service, operations, and a long list of other Covid-19-related expenses will help airports meet the enormous challenges they face during the current pandemic.”