US DOT assigns $10M to reconstruct Aguadilla airport runway
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced the assignment of $10 million for repairs to the 11,000-plus foot, 8-26 runway at the Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González confirmed.
The funding is part of a global $30.5 billion allocation available to support public transportation systems across the US mainland and its territories as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and support President Biden’s call to vaccinate the US population, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.
Late last year, Puerto Rico government officials unveiled details of a five-year, $135 million construction project of a new 8-26 runway at the western-area airport, to be financed with federal grants and the Puerto Rico Ports Authority’s own funds, as News is my Business reported. The DOT signed off on that project in April 2020.
The DOT’s grant advance notice dated Mar. 29, 2021 confirming the allocation specifies that it must be used to reconstruct that runway, this media outlet confirmed.
The Rafael Hernández Airport — along with Ponce’s Mercedita International Airport — is slated to reopen for commercial traffic on April 1, after more than a year of a COVID-19-related shutdown. At the onset of the pandemic last year, traffic at both airports was diverted to the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina.
Ports Authority Executive Director Joel Pizá said in November 2020 that both airports received an Accreditation Certificate from the Airports Council International, after completing the Airport Health Accreditation Program, as News is my Business reported.
He outlined the protocols that passengers must follow when the airports reopen this week, such as wearing a face mask in the terminal, as well as in-flight.
The only people allowed inside the terminal will be passengers who are advised to arrive two hours ahead of their flight, so they can go through the screening by the Department of Health and the Puerto Rico National Guard, as well as have their luggage inspected by the US Department of Agriculture.
Arriving passengers are urged to exit the terminal as quickly as possible to prevent crowding.
News is my Business reporter Yamilet Aponte-Claudio contributed to this story.