Barletta Successfully Amends FAA Bill in Committee
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today successfully added two amendments to a major piece of aviation legislation in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Barletta’s first amendment boosts Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding to help airports deal with the backlog of needed infrastructure projects. The second amendment requires a study of retroreflective paint on runways to determine safety and cost benefits. The amendments occurred during a committee markup of the 21st Century AIRR Act, H.R. 2997. At the time of this press release, the committee was still considering H.R. 2997.
Barletta’s AIP amendment restores the program to the same funding level as in Fiscal Year 2011 ($3.52 billion) and increases the amount by two percent in each subsequent year. In Pennsylvania alone, airports have identified $700 million in critical infrastructure projects. Nationally, airports require $20 billion each year worth of improvements. Barletta’s amendment represents a much-needed funding increase for these projects. The bipartisan amendment, offered with Congressmen Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and Sam Graves (R-MO), passed the committee by a unanimous vote.
“For years, the airports in and around my district have talked about projects that they want to move forward with but could not fund,” Barletta said. “I am sure that every member of this committee has heard similar feedback from their local airports. I am pleased that we will finally be able to put a dent in the infrastructure backlog.”
Harrisburg International Airport, for example, 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. Due to 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.
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, offered support for Barletta’s amendment.
“The Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority fully supports Congressman Barletta’s amendment to increase AIP funding,” Edwards said. “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 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 language was included as a larger block of amendments that were unanimously adopted by voice vote.
“Given the important role these markings play in guiding pilots and ensuring the safety of passengers, I think it is only right that we examine their resiliency and effectiveness,” Barletta said.
The overall aviation legislation, which is still under consideration in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, 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.
The committee is expected to finish its markup later this evening.