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Bipartisan Infrastructure Law nets $6M for Aguadilla Airport

The Rafael Hernández International Airport in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, has been awarded some $6 million that will fund a portion of a project to rehabilitate the existing 1942-era commercial terminal building, which is a modified aircraft hangar. 

The funding comes from the Airport Terminal Program, one of three aviation programs created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law provides $1 billion annually for five years for Airport Terminal Program grants to 99 airports in 47 states and two U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. In total, the law is providing $25 billion to modernize the country’s airport infrastructure.

“This will help us fund part of the project to rehabilitate the passenger terminal, which includes, among other major works, adding an exit hall on the second level with four boarding gates for different size aircrafts and building a 12,000-square foot facility for the CBP to handle international arrivals,” the executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, Joel Pizá, said in a statement released by the local agency.

Pizá recalled that, last year, the Airport Terminal Program made available $5 billion to promote safer, more sustainable and accessible terminals. The Ports Authority submitted its application in December for the project, estimated at $53.5 million, of which the agency will invest $10 million. The Ports Authority is also working on the preparation of a grant under the Community Development Block Grant Infrastructure-Mitigation Program to cover an additional $37.5 million. 

The terminal improvement project aims to add about 40,400 square feet to the existing 111,600-square-foot terminal for a total of 152,000 square feet. In addition, it includes modifications to the interior of the terminal to improve capacity and passenger flow. Three new elevators and escalators will be installed to facilitate connectivity in the terminal and provide more efficient and safe mobility.

In 2022, Pizá announced that Ports received a federal grant of $45.2 million to develop the construction project of the new runway at the Aguadilla airport, in addition to the $30 million that the Puerto Rico government was able to obtain from state funds and the $24.2 million granted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), for a total of $100 million.

The $1 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law airport funding is being awarded to address the growing demand for air travel and invests in key areas to help get travelers in and out of airports more quickly and improve the passenger experience by investing in new baggage systems, larger security checkpoints and improved ground transportation. Other projects increase terminal sustainability and improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Several grants will address the needs of aging air traffic control towers. 

The new awards are on top of the $1 billion for airport terminals announced for 85 airports last year. Most of those projects are under construction, according to the FAA’s release.

“In addition to expanding the capacities of our passenger terminal in Aguadilla, this project is essential to support initiatives that serve as an incentive for air transportation and promote the movement of passengers in the western area of the island,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said, adding that the Aguadilla airport “continues to be an engine of the economy, a source of new jobs and commercial opportunities for the northwest region.”

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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