The Puerto Rico Ports Authority received an additional grant of $24.2 million to develop the runway reconstruction project at the Rafael Hernández International Airport in Aguadilla, agency Executive Director Joel A. Pizá-Batiz announced.
“This new grant is added to the historic $26 million grant announced last week. This is a very important achievement within the Ports Authority’s capital improvement plan for our airports, and in this case, for the Aguadilla runway reconstruction project, at an estimated cost of more than $100 million over five years,” Pizá-Batiz said.
Of the $24.2 million, about $20 million are part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriation, Airport Improvement Program.
Legislation HR 1625 signed by President Donald Trump in 2018, allocated $1 billion in additional discretionary funds, which allow the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to grant funding to airport projects, with priority to non-primary facilities classified as regional, outside of metropolitan areas.
In 2018, Ports submitted to the FAA the plan for the Aguadilla runway reconstruction project, which the federal agency accepted, conditioned on the completion of the environmental assessment and a financial plan, among other requirements, he said.
“Ports’ planning and environmental areas completed all the required studies, obtaining the final approval of these funds. The environmental evaluation process was participatory and publicly shared, in accordance with the National Environmental Protection Act,” Pizá-Batiz said.
The construction plan approved by the FAA for the runway allows construction activities to be carried out without interrupting the airport’s operations. The scope of work includes demolishing buildings south of the airport, converting the Mike taxiway into a new runway parallel to the existing runway, and converting the existing runway into a taxiway.
The development of a new master plan is also contemplated, including the construction of a hub for cargo and passenger transshipment operations, after the delivery last April of the final waiver by the U.S. Department of Transportation requested for Rafael Hernández in Aguadilla, Mercedita in Ponce, and Luis Muñoz Marín international airports.
“We continue to focus on optimizing our air facilities, in this case the Rafael Hernández International Airport in Aguadilla, to continue contributing to the economic development of the western region and to the entire island,” Pizá-Batiz concluded.