|U.S. Senators Richard Bryan (D-NV) and Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that five Nevada airports are due to share more than $20 million in new grants through the Federal Aviation Administrations Airport Improvement Program (AIP). AIP funds, collected by the FAA through passenger and airline contributions, are designated for the improvement of airport infrastructures and the enhancement of traveler safety.
The Airport Improvement Program is one of the most important sources of funding for airports across the nation to substantial improvements to their terminals, runways, parking facilities, and security capabilities, Senator Bryan said. Since airline passengers, rather than taxpayers, pay for a substantial portion of these funds, they are rightly the primary beneficiaries. Additionally, with over 50% of all Nevada travelers and tourists using air travel as their primary mode of transportation, our airports safety and security have never been more important.
Senator Reid concurred: Nevadas airports are the first thing and the last thing that millions of tourists see when they visit the Silver State each year. Thats why its vital that we invest dollars today to improve safety and help our airports grow to meet the demands put on them by increased air traffic. As a member of the Transportation Appropriations Committee and the Public Works Committee, I strongly believe that the Federal Government should invest in our airports just as we do in our highways and our bridges. Our future economic growth and development, both on the national and the local level rests in great parts on our ability to keep our airports modern and safe.
Included in the $20.5 million awarded to Nevada airports is $8,234,580 for McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
The news of McCarrans award is especially gratifying, as these funds are earmarked to meet current and future capacity demands of the airport, Senator Bryan noted. With McCarrans airline passenger counts topping 30 million in 1998, and several thousand new hotel rooms coming on-line in 1999, the ability to expand capacity will be vital to the airports continued success.
Senator Reid continued, McCarran International is the gateway to the worlds premier resort destination and it is important that we make the necessary improvements today to increase the number of flights we can bring in each year. With the rapid growth of new hotel rooms n the Las Vegas valley, it is more important than ever to keep flights arriving safely each day at McCarran and to improve regional airports like Sky Harbor to handle some of the overflow traffic from smaller planes.
Also receiving a substantial dollar award$5 Millionis Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
As the gateway to northern Nevada, Reno-Tahoe plays an essential role in the regions economy, Bryan explained. These improvements are much more than cosmetic. They will help the airport continue its outstanding record of safety and excellent service for the airlines that fly in and out of the area. With American Airlines commitment to me to maintain the Reno Air flights in and out of their Chicago hub, these improvements could not have come at a better time.
For Carson City and Elko to be included in this round of awards also sends a strong signal that they are cities on the rise and need their airports to keep pace with their progress.
With the growth occurring in Reno, Carson City, and even Elko County, the additional funds will allow each of these facilities to make significant improvements, Senator Reid added. These grants will enable smaller communities like Carson City and Elkowho may not have the resources to spend on transportation projectsto rebuild runways which have fallen into disrepair and build new buildings. In order for our economy to take off and grow, we must be prepared to invest the dollars today to improve our airports.
Reprinted from Nevada Skyways with the permission of the Nevada Department of Transportation.