Pittsburgh International Airport was one of 85 airports nationwide selected this week to get federal funding for improvement projects. PIT will receive $20 million for its Terminal Modernization Program. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

85 U.S. Airports Split $1B for Infrastructure Upgrades

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that 85 airports across the country—including Pittsburgh—will get a total of $1 billion in federal funding for improvement projects.

The grants are part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden in November.

The FAA said the grants will help to modernize the nation’s airport terminals, increase energy efficiency, promote competition and provide greater accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Two grants will also be awarded to build new air traffic control towers.

Pittsburgh International Airport’s Terminal Modernization Program was selected to receive $20 million of the funding. PIT competed for grant dollars against airports of the same size from across the nation. The FAA received more than 650 applications from 532 airports for terminal projects, underscoring the demand for funding.

“We appreciate the administration’s commitment to improving transportation and are pleased that our Terminal Modernization Program was selected for federal infrastructure funding,” said Vince Gastgeb, PIT’s Senior Vice President of Corporate and Government Relations. “This would not have been possible without the support of our federal officials, and we thank them for their continued partnership.”

Officials will await further guidance on exactly how the money can be used, but generally it will go toward the airport’s $1.4 billion project already underway.

The vast majority of the funding for the project comes from airlines operating at the airport, through airline rates and charges, as well as from other airport revenue including parking, terminal concessions, and natural gas operations. No local tax dollars are being used to fund the project.

“This funding will help continue our efforts to create jobs and make our airport one of the most modern and technologically advanced in the country. This is a great day for all of western Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Conor Lamb (PA-17).

The airport grant winners range from the largest of Boston ($62 million), Denver ($60 million), Los Angeles and Orlando ($50 million) to $36,000 to Augusta, Kan., and $95,000 to Bemidji, Minn.

“America is a country that brought the modern aviation age to the world—and yet around the world, in most rankings of airport quality, not one of our airports ranks among the top 25,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “That’s something that we have to change.”

Upon completion, PIT’s new 700,000-square-foot terminal will drastically reduce walking distances for travelers and add security lanes to reduce wait times. Outdoor terraces will showcase the beauty of the local environment, interior spaces will allow for easy and efficient passenger flow, and there will be more space for dining and shopping. It will also feature artwork by local artists both inside and outside.

While the new terminal’s design will benefit the traveling public, its construction is supporting local businesses and workers.

So far 82 contracts worth approximately $1 billion have been awarded. More than 80 percent have gone to local companies.

“At the start of this project, we made a promise to our community that this airport will be built for and by Pittsburgh,” said PIT’s Chief Development Officer Paul Hoback.