Barletta Amends Aviation Bill to Fund Airport Projects, Improve Safety
Click here or on image for video of Rep. Barletta introducing an amendment to improve airport infrastructure
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, twice successfully amended a major piece of aviation legislation in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to increase funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and to study the use of retroreflective paint on airport runways. Barletta’s first amendment boosts AIP funding to help airports deal with the backlog of needed infrastructure projects. A second Barletta amendment requires a study of retroreflective paint on runways to determine safety and cost benefits. The amendments occurred during a committee markup of H.R. 4441, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, & Reauthorization Act. The overall bill was approved by the committee and sent to the full House of Representatives for its consideration.
Barletta’s AIP amendment restores the program to the same funding level as in Fiscal Year 2011 ($3.5 billion) and increases the amount by 2 percent in each subsequent year. In Pennsylvania alone, airports have identified $700 million in critical infrastructure projects. Nationally, airports require $30 billion worth of improvements. While Barletta’s amendment does not solve the entire backlog problem, it does represent a much-needed increase. The bipartisan amendment, offered with Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), passed the committee by a vote of 47-to-12.
“Infrastructure is the backbone of our economy. That’s why I continue to fight for investment in all of our transportation systems,” Barletta said. “The Airport Improvement Program is the program that invests in the most basic infrastructure projects. We’re talking about runways, taxiways, noise reduction, and safety and emergency equipment. Our small- and medium-sized airports heavily rely on this program. We cannot allow America’s infrastructure to continue to crumble. We must restore this important funding.”
As an example, Harrisburg International Airport is currently in the design phase for a project rehabilitating its only runway. The three-phase plan is expected to be completed in 2018 at a total projected cost of approximately $24.5 million. Because there is intense competition for scarce AIP funding for airport projects nationally, Barletta’s increase will make it more likely that Harrisburg’s plans can be completed as proposed.
“The Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority fully supports Congressman Barletta’s amendment to increase AIP funding,” said Tim Edwards, Executive Director of the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which is the owner and operator of Harrisburg International Airport, Capital City Airport, Franklin County Regional Airport, and Gettysburg Regional Airport. “The additional funds are vital for the continued investment in our nation’s airport infrastructure. We are grateful for Congressman Barletta’s continued support of America’s aviation industry.”
The second Barletta amendment, offered with Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-6), requires a study of the use of beaded retroreflective paint on airport runways. Barletta, who founded a successful line painting business with his wife, noted that painted lines are expected to last approximately six months, while thermoplastic lines – applied onto surfaces using heat – should last two years. The amendment was adopted by voice vote by the committee.
“There is a higher cost for thermoplastic, but it is cheaper in the long run,” Barletta said. “What we are asking for is a study to determine if higher reflective paint actually makes runways safer. Also, how does the weather affect the life of the reflectivity of the lines?”
The overall aviation legislation establishes an independent, not-for-profit corporation outside of the federal government to modernize America’s air traffic control system and provide air traffic services. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), provides reforms to our aviation system, and upholds the FAA’s role as the Nation’s aviation safety regulator.
Under the bill, the federally-chartered air traffic control corporation will be governed by a board representing the aviation system’s users and the public interest. The comprehensive reauthorization bill also streamlines the FAA’s aviation equipment and aircraft certification processes, provides additional improvements for consumers, addresses aviation safety issues, gives the FAA more tools for the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems, and provides for airport infrastructure improvements across the country.