WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) – Bradley International Airport is one of 85 airports that will receive federal funding to expand and upgrade terminals and other facilities. The grants announced Thursday are the first installment of $5 billion for airport projects that were included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Congress approved and President Joe Biden signed last November.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the projects will help meet future demand for travel and make flying safer and more efficient.
“Americans deserve modern airports that meet the needs of their families and growing passenger demand. Funded through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, today’s grants will improve airport terminals while also creating good jobs in communities across the country,” Buttigieg said.
Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that Bradley International Airport will receive $20 million, which will go toward expanding the terminal and updating existing mechanical equipment.
The airport’s existing checked baggage inspection system (CBIS) is in the ticket counter area, which limits capacity and creates passenger congestion and delays. Funding will expand the terminal to provide an in-line CBIS and implement an upgraded, airport-wide baggage handling system. Additional energy-efficient updates will be made throughout the terminal to include installing elevators, an upgraded HVAC system, and new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant restrooms.
“We will now be building a separate facility where the baggage will be taken to by our conveyor system and it will be checked in those locations. It is a great customer service improvement, but it also frees up much-needed ticket counter space here in the terminal,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority.
The project will be phased over the next two years.
The largest of the FAA grants include $60 million to improve the terminal and replace the bag-handling system at Denver International Airport, $50 million apiece for Boston’s Logan Airport and Orlando International Airport in Florida, $49.6 million for Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C., to build a new concourse and $20 million for Pittsburgh International Airport to build a new terminal next to the old one.
The main airports in Detroit and Philadelphia will get more than $20 million each to renovate their restrooms.
The FAA said 532 airports submitted applications for 658 projects that, if all had been granted, would have totaled more than $14 billion.
As more travelers are flying again, airport officials hope removing these machines will improve wait time and get more airlines interested in coming to Bradley.
“It’s difficult to continue to recruit airlines. We’ve been very successful over the past year attracting new airlines to Bradley. We want to keep doing that, so we really need to free up the space,” Dillon said.
In the past, federal funds have gone largely into runways, taxiways, and towers while airports paid for terminal upgrades with money they get from passenger facility charges, or PFCs — up to $4.50 per flight that is tacked onto every airline ticket.
Buttigieg said it is fine to spend taxpayer money on projects that were generally funded by passenger fees in the past because “there is a need out there; taxpayers expect it and want it.”
Congress could consider raising ticket taxes for airport projects next year. Airports want to raise the fees, but airlines don’t.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.