Gainesville’s City Commission formally accepted a $4,253,212 grant last week from the U.S. Transportation Department to modernize the Gainesville Regional Airport.
The grant, which is part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program, will be used to build a new Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Station. This will begin the process of upgrading the commercial passenger terminal as well.
According to the FAA website, the Airport Improvement Program is a federal initiative with the aim of updating the security and capacity of public-use airports.
“Each year the FAA administers 1,800 new grants and amends approximately 400 grants,” said Marcia Alexander-Adams of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Communications in an email. “The annual amount of money spent on AIP is $3.35 billion.”
As of Sept. 6, there have been 1,418 other Airport Improvement Program grants disbursed this year throughout the country, according to data available on the FAA website.
The total costs of the improvements add up to $4,514,819, leaving the remaining $261,607 to be paid for by the Gainesville-Alachua County Regional Airport Authority. This is done mainly through passenger facility charges and rent from businesses, said Laura Aguiar, manager of public relations and governmental affairs for Gainesville Regional Airport.
The airport will likely receive the grant money on Oct. 1.
While the airport’s current firefighting station is functional, the grant money will be used to build a brand new station in a different location.
The improvements to the terminal also include a design for a concourse at ground level that can harbor newer planes.
“The airline industry is changing, and we need to be able to accommodate larger, more narrow-bodied jets,” Aguiar said.