Stimulus offers airport safety funding

BOB HOPE AIRPORT — The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority is set to receive $3.5 million for safety upgrades on three taxiways as part of the federal stimulus package.

The Department of Transportation indicated last month that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood would identify “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects and give them priority when it came time to distribute $1.1 billion available to airports for upgrades through the stimulus package.

The Bob Hope Airport project to resurface taxiways C, D and G will help create 35 jobs, airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

“Part of the reason we were chosen is because we’re ready to roll on this when, perhaps, other airports are dragging their feet,” said airport Commissioner Charles Lombardo. “And we’re using the money for exactly what the stimulus plan intended it to be used for.”

President Barack Obama signed the $787-billion economic stimulus package into law in February to preserve and create jobs promoting economic recovery, assist those most impacted by the recession and provide investments needed to increase economic effectiveness.

The $3.5 million will go toward repaving and repainting the three taxiways. The airport last resurfaced taxiways C and G in 1995, and has yet to touch taxiway D, which it constructed in 1990, Gill said. Aged or deteriorating taxiways accumulate unfastened gravel and impediments that can damage the engines of aircraft. Restriping the runways will also enhance safety by improving visibility for taxiing pilots.

The 555-acre airport serves about 5 million annual passengers and houses about 45 private jets.

Bob Hope Airport plans to spend the stimulus moneys as rapidly as possible, said Rep. Adam Schiff, who announced the news.

“[The Department of Transportation] is certainly looking for projects that will create or preserve jobs and will do that as soon as possible,” Schiff said Tuesday. “I am glad to see that we can make use of the stimulus to create some good-paying jobs in our region and also improve safety at our airport.”

Plans for the taxiway construction were in the works before Obama took office, as airport executives planned to include the resurfacing and restriping project in the authority’s 2009-10 capital investment budget.

The Airport Authority discussed the stimulus package at its Jan. 21 meeting. Eager to capitalize on the potential stimulus funds, airport staff accelerated the design and bidding of the project. Gill said the airport expects to issue an award of contract at its April 20 meeting, with the project slated to begin in May.

Bob Hope Airport is the first in the region to receive stimulus funding, Schiff said. However, two Pittsburgh-area airports — Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin — last month received $12 million from the stimulus package.

Since, Duluth International Airport announced that it could receive as much as $7.2 million, while Arizona will get $28 million in stimulus money to fund airport construction projects throughout the state.

Bob Hope Airport officials last month announced another safety-related project, this one involving runway guard lights. The project will be funded in part by a $1.67-million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The project is expected to cost between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.

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