At the end of his career as a commercial pilot, Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt made his final landing at the Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI). And, before becoming Deputy Secretary, John Porcari was formerly Maryland's Secretary of Transportation.
So yesterday's visit by both men to BWI to celebrate the $41 million in upgrades to BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport supported by $15 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a return to familiar ground.At BWI, Deputy Secretary Porcari praised the ongoing safety, environmental, communications, and utility projects. When completed next year, BWI’s reconstructed aircraft parking apron will enhance safety and allow more efficient operations among larger aircraft and service vehicles. The project also includes a new environmentally friendly deicing fluid collection system and new communications and utility systems.
And, according to US Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, about 200 jobs will have been created by the time the project is completed next year. After all, the apron-upgrade project at BWI will replace more than 14 acres of pavement and the utility and communication infrastructure beneath it. That's more than 11 football fields of work.
The pavement being replaced dates back to the 1970s, and some of the utility lines underneath are from the 1950s when President Truman dedicated the original airport.
BWI Executive Director Paul Wiedefeld said the pavement upgrade is essential: “The passengers may not appreciate it, but without it, you can’t run your business. If you don’t have good pavement, these guys can’t come and go.”
But without the Recovery Act, this critical $41 million project would not have been possible. As Deputy Secretary Porcari said, “We’re living off investments our parents and grandparents made in transportation. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we know we haven't been keeping up. That's where the Recovery Act comes in."
Administrator Babbitt echoed that idea: “Recovery Act funds are making a difference at our nation's airports. These projects will ensure that BWI and other airports continue to meet the safety needs of the traveling public.”
And the benefits of transportation investments don't end with safety, efficiency,
and environmental upgrades. BWI generates more than $5 billion in
spending every year
and is responsible for nearly 100,000 jobs.
This Recovery Act project is creating construction jobs now. And this Recovery Act project is making BWI safer and greener. But Recovery Act projects like this are also making a measurable and meaningful difference in laying the foundation for long-term, sustainable growth and prosperity.