Lehigh Valley International Airport to Receive $20 Million in Grants
By Colin McEvoy on August 9, 2019
The Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA) will receive more than $20 million in federal grants to support runway improvements, pavement rehabilitations, and other infrastructure improvements.
The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority (LNAA) on July 30 unanimously voted to accept four grants totaling $20.8 million from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to Thomas R. Stoudt, LNAA Executive Director.
The majority of those funds are packaged into three different grants for Phase II construction of the Runway 6-24 rehabilitation project at the Hanover Township, Lehigh County-based airport.
That project, which has a total cost of $22.6 million, includes pavement rehabilitation, strengthening, and regrading, Stoudt said, as well as removing storm drains from the runway, and replacing light at Taxiway A and E.
“Receiving strong financial assistance from the FAA remains an important resource for the Airport Authority to complete critical infrastructure projects across our entire aviation system, and this significant investment helps us maintain a flight path to future success,” Stoudt said.
Last rehabilitated in 1999, the approximate cost of the entire Runway 6/24 project is anticipated at $90 million and is estimated to be completed by 2023.
The three grants going toward the Phase II construction of the project total $11.5 million, $8.5 million, and $348,295 each, Stoudt said. The funds stemming from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP).
The fourth grant, totaling $403,565, will be used for the mitigation of obstructions impending the approach to Runway 15 at the Queen City Airport in Allentown.
“Working alongside the city of Allentown to successfully complete this project is paramount when working within existing easements,” said Ryan Meyer, Director of Planning and Programming at LNAA. “Removal of these objects allows general aviation pilots to safely takeoff and land via Runway 15 at night, which has previously been restricted.”
In August 2017, the Airport Authority had received $79,830 to conduct an environmental assessment for obstruction removal/analysis which was required for the runway approaches, according to the airport.
LVIA plays has a pivotal role and impact on regional economic development in the Lehigh Valley, according to Matthew Tuerk, LVEDC Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing.
Nationally, the aviation industry employs 508,000 employees in air transportation, 154,000 in airport operations, and 430,000 in aircraft, aircraft engine, and aircraft parts manufacturing as of the end of 2018, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics and JobsEQ.
In the Lehigh Valley, there are 523 people employed in air transportation, 297 in airport operations, and 78 in aircraft, aircraft engine, and aircraft parts manufacturing, according to George Lewis, LVEDC Director of Research and Analytics.
A past Area Development survey found accessibility to a major airport is considered important or very important to more than 44% of responding site selectors, more important than corporate tax rates, union presence, and energy availability and costs.
Having a regionally-based airport like LVIA is also helpful for foreign direct investment in the Lehigh Valley. When companies based overseas are seeking places in the United States for investment, it is critically important that they have quick access to their facilities via airports, Tuerk said.
LVIA’s nonstop destinations include Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Myrtle Beach (seasonal), Nashville (seasonal), Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, Punta Gorda, Savannah/Hilton Head (seasonal), and Tampa Bay.
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