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House Passes Bill to Incentivize Timely Airport Project Construction & Cost Savings

A bill to ensure that Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds can be used by airports to incentivize the early completion of critical runway and airport projects was approved by the House of Representatives today.

The Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2020 (H.R. 5912) was introduced by Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and Subcommittee on Aviation Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA).  The bill makes incentive payments for early completion of projects an eligible cost under the AIP program, which provides grants to public agencies and other entities for the planning, development, and execution of infrastructure projects at public-use airports, such as runways and taxiways.

“Time is money in infrastructure project construction, and that includes at the Nation’s airports,” said T&I Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves.  “This is a smart reform that already works for road and bridge project construction, and delivering airport projects ahead of schedule can help save money and essentially provide a similar impact as increasing investment without any additional federal resources.”

“Whether it is a runway project, safety project, or expansion project, every time we take a runway or taxiway out of commission, this delays airport efficiency and capacity, which in turn results in delayed flights, vacations, family visits, business trips, and much more.  This bill will result in more efficient use of taxpayer funds, better flight options, and improved aviation safety.  Modeled after existing road project programs, this legislation will help ensure that airports have the tools necessary to avoid delayed service and get airport improvement projects completed faster,” said Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Garret Graves.  “Every day of project delay not only results in a more expensive project, but revenues are lost because of perpetuated transportation inefficiencies.  This is a win-win for airports and taxpayers alike.”

The bill has support from key infrastructure stakeholders as well. 

Joint statement from Airports Council International – North America and the American Association of Airport Executives: “We commend Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Garret Graves for spearheading legislation that would allow airports to use Airport Improvement Program funds to incentivize the early completion of critical infrastructure projects.  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.”

Statement from James V. Christianson, Vice President, Government Relations, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC): “AGC of America fully supports H.R. 5912, the Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2020.  Just like the benefit they have provided to the Federal-aid Highway Program for over 20 years, the usage of early completion incentives provided for in this bill would allow for more timely and efficient completion of crucial airport construction projects that benefit the traveling public.”

Under current law, airports cannot use AIP funds to incentivize early completion of airport projects, even if the early completion would result in significant capacity or efficiency gains for the airport.  H.R. 5912 would allow airports, including those with short construction seasons or disruptive airfield projects, to use up to $1 million in AIP money to incentivize a contractor to complete the project early.  Use of incentive payments would be left to the discretion of the airport operator.  Similar incentives are common in the construction of surface transportation projects, and early completion of airport projects can similarly result in cost savings.

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