Port Authority gets $10.7M in federal grants for work at V.I. airports
Published: September 30, 2013
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ST. CROIX - V.I. Port Authority officials are embarking on a number of improvement projects at both of the territory's airports, thanks to more than $10 million in federal grant money.
Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe said the U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Federal Aviation Administration, has issued two separate grants last week to the Port Authority totaling $10.7 million that will be used to assist the agency with major repairs at the territory's airports.
He said the authority received a $4.8 million grant from the Airport Improvement Program for Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix, $1.7 of which is entitlement funds, and the balance of $3.1 million is discretionary funds.
"The Port Authority has received entitlement monies from the FAA for Rohlsen Airport every year, but the FAA had been withholding discretionary funds from us for St. Croix since 2002 because they saw the potential flight hazards birds attracted to the nearby Anguilla Landfill airport could cause," he said. "Now that the landfill is not accepting loose garbage and is only accepting baled and wrapped garbage, the FAA was satisfied with the progress that had been made towards closing the facility."
The Port Authority owns the land occupied by the Anguilla Landfill, but it is managed by the V.I. Waste Management Authority.
Dowe said he considers the release of the money a big accomplishment. "This is a significant milestone reached for the island of St. Croix in particular, because this issue has been a standing item for the Port Authority's governing board at every meeting," he said.
Dowe said he has travelled with staff and met with the FAA on five occasions regarding the issue of discretionary funds for Rohlsen Airport and finally the efforts, including those of local and federal partners, have paid off.
The grant for Rohlsen Airport will be used to fund construction phases one and two of the airport's apron rehabilitation project. The grant will also fund a terminal operational enhancement study there to investigate alternatives to improve and expedite the movement of passengers through security areas.
Dowe said the Port Authority also received notification that the FAA issued an Airport Improvement Grant in the amount of $5.8 million to be used to install a new perimeter security fence at King Airport on St. Thomas. He said the security enhancement is required by federal regulations that govern the airport and a portion of the grant also will be used to rehabilitate the deteriorated general aviation apron at King Airport.
"The apron, which is primarily used for private jet parking, was constructed in 1986 and is in poor condition," Dowe said.
The grant for King Airport will be issued as a multi-year grant, with $2.5 million issued in Fiscal Year 2013, and the remaining $3.3 million to be appropriated in the next fiscal year.
Dowe said the Airport Improvement Program provides grants to qualifying public agencies for the planning and development of public use, and the grants issued to the Port Authority cover 90 percent of the total cost of eligible airport improvement projects while the authority will fund the remaining 10 percent of the projects.
To secure future funding opportunities, Dowe said the Port Authority has agreed to follow through on its wildlife population studies ongoing at the landfill and monitor activity at the landfill to ensure no unauthorized collection takes place. They plan to maintain a close relationship with the FAA and keep lines of communication open, according to Dowe.
"We are serious about wanting to be able to secure all available funds for the improvement of our port properties and assure the public that the authority will continue to monitor all projects funded by the grants to improve our airport facilities and enhance the gateways to our territory," he said.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.