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Reps. Sam Graves and Garret Graves Introduce Bill to Incentivize Timely Airport Project Construction and Save Tax Dollars

A bill to enable the use of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to incentivize the early completion of critical runway and airport projects has been introduced in the House by Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and senior Committee Member Garret Graves (R-LA).

The Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2021 (H.R. 468) makes incentive payments for the early completion of projects an eligible cost under the AIP.  The AIP 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.

“This is a proven, smart reform that already works for road and bridge project construction,” said T&I Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves.  “Delivering airport projects ahead of schedule can help save money and essentially provide a similar impact as increasing investment without any additional federal resources.  This bill passed through the House without opposition last Congress, and I look forward to now moving it through both Houses of Congress and seeing it signed into law.”

“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 – whether vacations, leisure or business trips. This legislation takes successful, existing road project programs and implements the same efficient practices to get airport improvement projects completed faster, meaning we will improve the efficiency and capacity of our airports while handling a runway or taxiway that is temporarily out of service,” said Rep. Garret Graves. “Overall, this is a win-win for airports and taxpayers alike. I’m looking forward to seeing this bill result in more efficient use of taxpayer funds, better flight options and improved aviation safety.” 

The bill also has support from key infrastructure stakeholders. 

Joint statement from Airports Council International – North America and the American Association of Airport Executives: “We commend Ranking Member Sam Graves and senior Committee 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. 468, the Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2021.  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.

The Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2021 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.

Similar legislation was introduced by Reps. Sam Graves and Garret Graves last Congress and was approved in the House by voice vote, but the Senate did not take up the legislation.

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