WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLOX) - Several airports around the state will soon see an upgrade in safety and infrastructure thanks to a $7.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced the funding Wednesday as part of an overall $520.5 million national investment in airports across the country.
“This $520.5 million in federal support to airports across the country will help to keep our nation’s airports in good shape and make air travel a better experience for passengers,” said Chao.
A total of 287 airports in 41 states will receive funding towards infrastructure improvements, including 12 airports in the Magnolia State.
Gulfport-Biloxi International will receive $2,453,000, which is the most money out of any airport on the list for Mississippi. Those funds will be used to use acquire new equipment, improve airport drainage, improve/modify/rehabilitate the terminal building, and redo three taxiways.
Stennis International in Bay St. Louis will receive $150,000 for an updated, multi-year master plan or study.
The Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport will receive $660,029 to improve a terminal building and install a new vertical visual guidance system.
The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport will also receive $2,641,953 to build a new taxiway and extend one of the existing taxiways.
Additionally, airports in Aberdeen, Batesville, Brookhaven, Holly Springs, New Albany, and Oxford will receive grant funding, as well as both airports in Columbus and both airports in Tupelo.
The airports were selected through an application process. Federal Aviation Administration officials say that grants towards airport safety are a top priority.
“As you know, the state of Mississippi has both industrial high population centers and rural airports, all of which are in need of infrastructure funding for their airport needs," said FAA Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell. "Safety is always the most important criteria that we use, but the state of Mississippi is well-funded for this round and will be in the future.”
According to the FAA, U.S. civil aviation supports $1.6 trillion in economic activity and nearly 11 million jobs.
President Trump’s administration has now allocated a total of $11.4 billion to more than 2,000 airports since January 2017, according to the announcement.
“America’s airports provide a gateway to the world for our citizens while at the same time delivering first impressions of the United States to visitors from abroad,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “It’s in our national interest to make them the crown jewel in our transportation system. The Airport Improvement Program allows us to do just that.”
Many airports are located in rural communities, which Elwell said is another priority for the Trump administration, DOT and Congress.
"They are a very, very critical lifeline, these small airports, to our overall economy." Elwell said.
Elwell noted that Airport Improvement Program grants are separate from the Essential Air Service funding that many of the airports on the list also receive.
A complete list of the airports receiving grants can be found on the FAA website.