- The U.S. Department of Transportation last week announced the award of $616.9 million of Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants for facilities in 45 states and four U.S. territories. This is the fourth allocation of this year's AIP funding of $3.18 billion.
- Awards typically range from a few thousand dollars to tens of millions and are determined according to each airport's activity and capital needs. The money goes toward maintenance, repair and new construction of taxiways, terminals and other airport infrastructure. Among the 408 airport infrastructure projects this round of funding will support are a noise mitigation initiative at San Diego International; $13.2 million for runway rehabilitation at Bradley International in Windsor Locks, Connecticut; and $20 million for a noise mitigation project at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International. The agency also issued letters of intent and grants totaling more than $93 million for runways and other work at Chicago O'Hare International.
- According to the department, the U.S. has more than 3,300 airports and 5,000 runways that must be maintained, as the U.S. civil aviation industry generates approximately $1.6 trillion in economic activity and supports a workforce of 11 million people. "The department," said Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao in a press release, "has been investing heavily in our nation's airport infrastructure, which will strengthen economic growth and create jobs in communities across the country."
According to the most recent ranking by Building Design + Construction, based on 2016 airport revenue, Hensel Phelps ($821.9 million), Turner Construction ($543.3 million), Skanska USA ($465 million), Austin Commercial ($423.7 million) and AECOM ($336.9 million) dominate this sector. The airport contracts that go to these and other large firms, however, also create opportunities for local subcontractors that specialize in paving and other trades.
For instance, Tampa International Airport, in preparation for the $543 million second phase of its $2.6 billion master plan expansion is holding a subcontractor outreach event in September so that interested and qualified subs can learn more about the project and meet the primary contractor companies — Hensel Phelps and Tampa, Florida-based firms Kimmins Contracting and Cone & Graham. That project will provide work for companies that specialize in demolition, structural, electrical, mechanical, fire protection, signage and other work.
It's safe to say that unless a general contractor has its own crews that perform the many trades required on a construction project of any size, it relies on subcontractors to provide enough workers to get the job done, even in the current environment of labor shortages. For these companies, it's critical that they maintain good relationships with their employees and remain competitive when it comes to wages and benefits. For other companies, like Gaston Electrical in Boston, offsite prefabrication has provided some relief. Company principal Bill Weber said that by building items like MEP panels ahead of time, Gaston can reduce onsite workforce needs by up to 50%.