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Greenville and Gulfport Airport Projects On Hold Awaiting FAA Funding

By Rhonda Miller | Published 01 Aug 2011 06:18pm | comments
Jim Foster is Assistant Executive Director of Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport

Work has stopped on projects at two Mississippi airports. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports 70,000 construction workers across the country have been off the job, waiting for Congress to approve funding for the Federal Aviation Administration.

A $1million runway improvement project is in limbo at the Mid-Delta Regional Airport in Greenville. Mayor Heather McTeer was in the nation’s capitol last week meeting with White House officials, legislators and Delta Airlines.

"To make sure that they understood that this is critical and that rural America is an important part of the transportation system for our cities and communities, especially in the state of Mississippi," McTeer said.

In a telephone press conference Monday, FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Huerta said projects across the country should not be put on hold.

"We need an FAA bill and we need it done quickly. This furlough is having a major impact on our efforts to modernize our air transportation system," Huerta said.

Construction of a new $12 million air traffic control tower at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport is on hold.  Jim Foster is the airport’s assistant executive director.

"Well, our old air traffic control tower was built in the mid-1970s, and it’s been through numerous bad weather events, most notably Hurricane Katrina, and it’s kind of antiquated," Foster said.

Despite the hold-up on the FAA budget, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said air travelers have no reason to worry.

"We will never compromise safety. Never. We will always have the money available to make sure controllers are in the tower, that our safety people are on the ground doing their jobs at airports," LaHood said.

LaHood has been urging legislators to resolve the FAA issue before Congress adjourns later this week and members board flights for home. 

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Jim Foster is Assistant Executive Director of Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport


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