Letter: Clarification on airport funding
November 20, 2015
In the Sept. 11, Nov. 10 and Nov. 18 editions of The Aspen Times, it was incorrectly stated that Federal Aviation Administration would cover most of the $145.9 million cost of the construction of a new terminal and runway and an above-ground parking lot. This is not entirely correct, as the parking lot and portions of the terminal-complex project are ineligible for federal airport-improvement funds. Depending upon the availability of funding and national priorities, the FAA anticipates only funding a portion of the terminal and runway projects rather than most of the costs associated with these projects.
Federal funds used for airport development are administered under the Airport Improvement Program. Federal law states that only a portion of the terminal construction is eligible for program funds (typically only common-use and public areas of a terminal building are eligible). In addition, the program's authorizing statute limits federal participation in the construction of the terminal building to a total of $20 million of the program's discretionary funds (see Public Law 112-95, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012). The airport sponsor may use its yearly Airport Improvement Program entitlement funds toward the terminal, which are approximately $1.95 million annually for the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.
Airport Improvement Program discretionary funds also may be available for airfield pavement work that is associated with the terminal construction, such as the air-carrier ramp. Depending on funding availability and national priorities, Airport Improvement Program discretionary funds could be used to pay for 90 percent of eligible pavement work, with local funds used for the remaining 10 percent and ineligible items. This would be true of funding the runway reconstruction project, as well.
At commercial service airports like the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, the Airport Improvement Program authorizing statute prohibits the use of program funds for fee parking lots and structures, most road improvements, landscaping and public art. Such expenses will be funded in entirety with local funds.
Project eligibility does not commit the FAA to participate in the cost of proposed airport development. The FAA funds Airport Improvement Program projects, including those proposed at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, based on the availability of program funds, which varies from year to year and the priority of program projects nationwide. The FAA will continue to work with the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport to determine funding options and timing for airport development, including the terminal building and runway reconstruction.
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