Reed lands $30M grant for runways

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Upgrades to the runways and taxiways at Green Airport are projected to start at about this time next year, Iftikhar Ahmad, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC), said Friday following the announcement the agency is the recipient of a $30 million Airport Improvement Program grant.

“We have to execute the project in a manner that has minimal impact on operations. We will coordinate with airlines on it. Specifically, the intersection of the two runways will have to be completed at night,” Ahmad said in a follow-up email to the announcement made by Senator Jack Reed.

The federal funds will be used to help complete reconstruction of the remaining portion of Runway 16-34, relocation of Taxiway C (east of Runway 5-23) and extension/reconstruction of Taxiway B (between 16-34 and C).

Ahmad said the grant would not fully cover all the work RIAC is looking to do. He said that is often the case with federal grants but, “We will use it to the extent we can while ensuring continued runway safety and will phase the rest of the project work.”

RIAC will provide a 10 percent match to the grant that will come from FAA.

“The wear and tear of landing jet aircrafts takes a lot out of them,” Reed said of the runways following the announcement at the airport. “The whole point is, first of all, they have to do it because at some point they’ll have to slow down operations because of the conditions of the runways. This way they’re going to have modern runways and, hopefully, it’ll be another incentive for airlines to come in and flights to increase and be an economic impact,” Reed said.

As for additional work needed at the airport, Reed said, “You can get the money, but you need additional funds to finish the project, and that’s a state responsibility. But when you can get a significant commitment on dollars like this, it makes their life a little easier. And also, it gives them, in the bond market, more clout because they’re not starting with zero, they’re starting with a significant amount of money.”

In 2017, RIAC completed an FAA-funded 1,534-foot extension of T.F Green’s main runway, opening the airport to more nonstop flights from more distant locations. The pavement surfaces and taxiways identified under this project are beyond the 20-year life cycle and in need of rehabilitation to address degradation and to meet today’s standards and performance requirements.

According to a release, funding for this project was made possible due to Senator Reed’s effort to provide an additional $1 billion in airport improvement funding in the fiscal year 2018 transportation funding bill. Those investments were targeted to help medium and small hub airports like T.F. Green.

“This grant will literally help pave the way for a safer, smoother runway and a more efficient airfield,” Senator Reed said in a statement.

Reed has helped direct more than $200 million in federal funds over the last decade to make capital improvements to the airport.

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Ben Dover

WELL, yippee skippy...Since we are talking about large numbers this time of year, (State budgets, city budgets, school budgets, contracts, unfunded liabilities, etc.) perhaps director Ahmad would like to share with the public just how much total debt is on the books at RIAC? This should include all payables, bonded debt, any borrowing from other agencies, including other quasi-publics, ALL debt...Is it above or below $400M? Angry taxpayers would like to know....

Saturday, May 18