WASHINGTON — Five airports will receive a total of $9 million in unexpected grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act because of lower-than-expected bids on other airports’ stimulus projects.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.Va., would receive an additional $2.58 million for terminal improvements, on top of the $4.9 million ARRA-funded terminal project it just completed. The airport improvements will include a pedestrian bridge, according to the FAA.
“These additional Recovery Act dollars are giving airports that serve a wide range of communities the chance to make needed improvements that wouldn’t otherwise be possible,” FAA administrator Randy Babbitt said during the event at Yeager Airport.
Four other airports — in Arizona, Michigan, Texas and Vermont — will receive portions of the ARRA airport surplus. A total of $1.3 billion of airport improvement grants were authorized by the act last year.
The MBS International Airport in Michigan will receive up to $3.39 million to help it rebuild a terminal. The airport has already received $11.6 million of ARRA funds to build an access road and passenger bridges, among other things.
In Texas, Killeen Skylark Field will receive a first-time ARRA grant of $2.37 million to rehabilitate a runway and taxiway.
Vermont’s Burlington International Airport will receive less than $500,000 to fix a critical taxiway, the FAA said. Two previous ARRA grants to the Burlington airport went toward fixing two other taxiways.
The FAA said it will provide $310,000 to the Avi Suquilla Airport in Parker, Ariz., to fix taxiway pavement, adding to a previous ARRA grant that helped rehabilitate the pavement on two taxiways.
The grants were selected by FAA based on factors such as project type, time frame, and location.
Projects across the country have been coming in under budget since last spring, including many highway projects, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation and previous statements by President Obama. Industry experts and local governments have attributed this to higher-than-usual competition for construction work and lower costs for some building materials.
Additionally, some projects have been unable to move forward at the local level, according to reports.
Transportation funds from ARRA have been allocated using a range of methods, including set formulas, state-allocated local grants, and nationwide competition across sectors. As a result, federal agencies are not always able to redistribute unused funds as the FAA has done.
Many of the highway funds from ARRA were provided in set amounts to state DOTs, which then obligated them to selected projects within the state.
For highway funds, “a lot of projects are coming in and costing less,” and states can re-obligate unused funds to other projects, said Federal Highway Administration spokeswoman Nancy Singer.