US halts $2.5b airport construction projects

FAA partial shutdown forces dozens of projects on to the backburner

The control tower at La Guardia airport is now partially demolished. Photo: Getty.
The control tower at La Guardia airport is now partially demolished. Photo: Getty.

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Dozens of airport construction projects across the US have been put on hold as the government failed to pass legislation to keep the Federal Aviation Administration running.

According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the FAA’s operating authority had expired on Friday, which had forced a partial shutdown of the agency. That meant dozens of stop-work orders were issued over the weekend on projects throughout the country – including work on air traffic control towers and other improvements.

Because Congress didn't do its work, FAA programs and thousands of public and private sector jobs are in jeopardy," LaHood told reporters in a conference call.

According to the Bloomberg news service, nearly 4,000 FAA employees in 35 states, and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who are paid from the trust fund have been furloughed.

That has affected around $2.5 billion in federal airport construction grants because the workers employed to handle those grants have been furloughed, whoch has, in turn, halted construction projects.

One such project is at one of New York’s busiest airports. Work was scheduled to begin Saturday on a $6 million project to demolish a control tower at New York's LaGuardia Airport. The construction firm hired to do the job, Paul J. Scariano, had to lay off the 40 workers assigned to the job – leaving the partly dismantled tower unattended.

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