The Federal Aviation Administration awarded $15.9 million in federal grants to Maryland’s airports for maintenance and upkeep.
The Airport Improvement Program grants are part of a more than $1.2 billion funding package of “airport and infrastructure grants ... to 405 airports in 50 states and six U.S. territories,” the FAA announced Tuesday.
“This $1.2 billion federal investment will improve our nation’s airport infrastructure, enhance safety, and strengthen growth in local communities, which is especially important as the economy recovers from COVID-19,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The following Maryland airports were awarded the grants:
- $5,560,023 for the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport in Leonardtown to extend the runway.
- $4,122,800 for the Greater Cumberland Regional Airport in Wiley Ford to rehabilitate the runway.
- $2,650,442 for the Ocean City Municipal Airport to reconstruct the runway.
- $1,617,687 for the Easton/Newnam Field to construct an aircraft safety area and remove obstruction markings and lighting.
- $884,646 for the Tipton Airport in Odenton to rehabilitate a building.
- $665,000 for the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to purchase land and for noise mitigation measures.
- $232,222 for the Carroll County Regional Airport/Jack B. Poage Field in Westminster to reconstruct the runway.
- $189,480 for the Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville to rehabilitate the runway.
Kirk Shaffer, the FAA’s associate administrator for airports, said the grants are part of more than $62 million in Airport Improvement Program funding that have been awarded to Maryland’s airports this fiscal year.
He said the administration is initiating construction projects that may affect travelers’ ability to fly while people are not traveling as much due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, the number of people going through airport checkpoints daily has plummeted, from averaging well over 2 million people per day last year to around 500,000 to 750,000 passengers this year.
Shaffer said the grant funding awarded to airports in more rural regions, like the Ocean City and Greater Cumberland airports, is just as important as funding larger airports like BWI as people become more reliant on online shopping.
“While we like to say we live in an internet economy ... the fact of the matter is that it is a transportation economy,” said Shaffer, adding those airports are sometimes responsible for handling overnight packages.
“Whatever good or service you order on your smartphone, it doesn’t magically show up on your front porch,” he said.
In April, the administration announced $10 billion in funding for commercial and general aviation airports as part of the CARES Act, as travel significantly slowed down due to restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Shaffer said Maryland airports received almost $108 million from the CARES Act, but said the Airport Improvement Program grants are regularly awarded to airports throughout the year and are not tied to CARES Act emergency funding.