About $83 million in federal funding for Louis Armstrong International Airport’s new terminal was announced Wednesday, finalizing a key financial component of the $650 million plan.
The funding is on par with what airport officials had been expecting in Federal Aviation Administration funds for the project. But they hailed the grant as a significant milestone in making the new terminal a reality.
“There was a lot of work that took place to get this funding,” Aviation Director Iftikar Ahmad said.
“We’ve been yearning for one. With this announcement it’s even closer than it was before.”
Overall, the airport is expected to receive about $95.5 million in FAA funds for the project.
The $83.3 million announced Wednesday comes from the agency’s discretionary funds, while the rest of the money was already budgeted for the airport, Ahmad said.
That money will largely go toward the construction of the new terminal itself, though some will be spent on drainage improvements.
The rest of the funding for the project will come from fees charged to airlines, state money, bonds issued by the airport and potentially a grant from the Transportation Security Administration, he said.
Crucially, the latest grant also will provide collateral for bonds that will pay for another $298.4 million chunk of the project.
The 650,000-square-foot terminal will serve as a replacement for the existing airport facility. It is scheduled to open in 2018, in time for the city’s tricentennial celebration.
“The Louis Armstrong International Airport is the gateway to our state for visitors from around the world, and this is our opportunity to make it the world-class facility it should be,” Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans, said in a news release announcing the funding. “We will be able to attract new businesses and create new jobs.”
The New Orleans Aviation Board selected Hunt Gibbs Boh Metro, a joint venture that counts several large local firms among its partners, to oversee the construction of the airport this summer.
Overall, the contract is worth about $546 million. More money will be spent reworking nearby roads.
Negotiations over the contract with the company are about “99.9 percent” complete, Ahmad said.
The last details to still be worked out have to do with workforce development initiatives, he said.
The goal is to ensure that promises about providing locals with jobs aren’t ignored, Ahmad said. “New Orleans does expect to have people on this job and New Orleans does expect to create some wealth through this project in our community.”
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