September 19, 2018
Huntsville International Airport will receive a federal grant of more than $29 million for improvements, including construction of a new taxiway, according to an announcement Sept. 17 by Sen. Richard Shelby.
He cited Huntsville’s growth as reason for the grant. The Rocket City is on pace to become the state’s largest in about five years and, according to Shelby’s office, is responsible for 62% of new jobs created in the state in the past decade.
“The city of Huntsville is growing at a rapid pace,” Shelby said in the announcement. “This new taxiway will allow for increased accessibility and efficiency for air traffic commuting to and from north Alabama. Additionally, the funding will play a vital role in enhancing economic development throughout the region. As Huntsville continues to attract more business, it is essential that the city and surrounding area improve and modernize local infrastructure in order to meet the demands of its booming economy.”
The airport recently has added low-fare carriers Silver and Frontier airlines.
“This $29.1 million grant will help Huntsville International Airport make significant infrastructure improvements to accommodate more direct flights into the area,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said in the announcement. “With the recent addition of Silver Airways and Frontier Airlines, the airport needs more capacity to manage increased traffic and future expansions that will support Huntsville’s bustling economy. Our deepest thanks to Sen. Shelby for his leadership in this region’s tremendous growth and success.”
Rick Tucker, executive director of the airport, said the funding will be used in several ways.
“Without Sen. Shelby’s work on the appropriations committee, this would not be possible today,” Tucker said. “He has once again acknowledged a need and done what was necessary to address it, benefiting the Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority.
“The funds secured will impact our facility as a whole and include improvements to the Jetplex Industrial Park, International Intermodal Center and the airport itself. This announcement ensures our ability to continue economic development initiatives within our region and positively impacts our entire state.”
The grant was provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Airport Improvement Program.
According to Shelby’s announcement, the grant provides $29.115 million to construct 4,600 feet of a new taxiway. The construction of the taxiway will provide access to current airport property that can accommodate building up to 11 747-9 parking positions as well as more than 600,000 square feet of hangar space, which would more than double the airport’s current cargo capability.
The Federal Aviation Administration, under DOT, oversees the AIP grant distribution program. The Fiscal 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which was passed and signed into law last March, provided FAA an additional $1 billion in discretionary grants for fiscal 2018-20, enabling the secretary of transportation to award funding for priority consideration projects. Huntsville International Airport met priority funding eligibility and was included in the first round of awards facilitated by the added discretionary funding.