"If this hadn't come along, I would still be seeking work. And I don't know anything other than work."
Van Smith is back on the job at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. He's part of a crew installing new runway approach lighting to help pilots land their aircraft in poor weather. This will allow the airport--consistently the world's busiest year after year--to improve its capacity and efficiency, while also improving passenger safety.
And it is supported by $5 million in money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Watch video of Administrator Babitt from Fox5 Atlanta
But the economic benefits of this Recovery Act project extend beyond the paychecks that Van Smith and his coworkers are happy to be earning. As Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt told those gathered last Friday at Hartsfield-Jackson:
"This $5 million project also means work for local concrete contractors, asphalt contractors, builders, electricians. A lot of people will go back to work on a project like this."
Administrator Babbitt, a lifelong pilot, noted that the Recovery Act has been making airports safer across America, and the new lighting for runway 27L is only one example:
“Landing is one of the most critical phases of flight. This approach lighting system will give pilots an extra layer of safety. But the Recovery Act is also responsible for safety enhancements and upgrades at airports and FAA facilities nationwide.”
In fact, $1.5 million in stimulus money has already made possible a new backup generator at Hartsfield-Jackson's control tower. A dependable power source for North America's tallest control tower is essential for managing the airport's nearly 2,700 daily departures and arrivals. Like the approach lights, the new generator is a boost for safety and reliability.
And $2.6 million in Recovery Act money funded a new power system for the National Network Control Center, where pilot flight plans are processed. Again, a steady source of power is required for efficient operation of the Control Center, whose work is critical to our national airspace system.
The $9.2 million in Atlanta is just part of $1.3 billion in Recovery Act airport grants creating jobs, stimulating economic activity, and making air travel safer and more reliable across the nation.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is working for Van Smith. It's working for Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. It's working for America.