The nearly $1 trillion federal infrastructure spending bill moving through Congress would help Tucson International Airport stay on track with its massive airfield improvement project, with nearly $32 million in potential new funding for TIA.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is awaiting House action after passing the Senate in mid-August, would provide $25 billion for airport and air-traffic control infrastructure spending, including $15 billion over five years for airport infrastructure improvements.
Under a formula for distributing the infrastructure funding, airports in Arizona would get an estimated $348 million over five years, including $31.7 million for Tucson International Airport and $217 million for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
The Tucson Airport Authority will likely use its infrastructure grant money to support its ongoing Airfield Security Enhancement Program, a $300 million program that includes building a new, parallel main runway, revamping taxiways and providing easier access for the Air National Guard, authority spokeswoman Jessie Allen said.
With work on taxiways set to start in October, the new main runway is expected to be operational by 2023 and the entire project is planned for completion in 2024 or 2025 — largely dependent on the steady release of federal funding.
“So far, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be delayed,” Allen said. “It’s great funding and we need as much as we can get to stay within hopefully finishing in four to six years, but it’s all contingent on being able to get that federal funding.”
The authority expects about 90% of funding for the multiyear project — the biggest in TIA’s history — to come from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, which is funded by airfare and aviation-fuel taxes, with the rest funded by airport revenues and state grants.
“It is a priority for the FAA to finish it, so we’re hopeful with that in mind we will get that consistent funding every year, but this obviously helps us move in that direction,” Allen said.
Crews are completing preliminary underground electrical work for the airfield project and work on a new bypass taxiway — needed to accommodate the Arizona Air National Guard and tenant aircraft-maintenance operations during runway construction — is expected to start Oct. 1, Allen said.