Warner talks about the importance of $15 million for the Roanoke-Blacksburg airport | Government and politics
Ahead of his flight home Saturday from a tour of southwest Virginia, U.S. Senator Mark Warner handed over an oversized copy of a $15 million check for planned improvements at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport .
Ending a three-day wobble in the area, Warner, D-Va., said federal funding for the local airport came from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It is a $1.2 trillion package to improve the country’s roads, bridges, rails and other basic structures, signed into law last November.
“For 40 years in this country, we’ve been talking about the need to invest in roads and railroads, broadband, airports, water and sewer,” Warner said. “Instead of talking about infrastructure, we’re putting our money where we’re at, and that check…is part of the bottom line.”
The $15 million will be spent improving security checkpoints, speeding up and improving the customer experience, said Mike Stewart, the airport’s executive director.
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“The help from the federal government is huge,” Stewart said. “We need all the help we can get.”
The project is in the planning phase and will take about a year before construction begins, Stewart said.
Of the trillion-dollar national infrastructure plan, nearly $400 million has been secured for Virginia airports, Warner said. Other federal funds could be won for regional infrastructure through competitive grants, he said.
“What’s really, really important is that we need to improve the customer experience and the number of flights here in Roanoke,” Warner said. “One of the things I’m concerned about is traffic leaking to Charlotte, or even sometimes people crossing the country, driving all the way to Dulles. [in Northern Virginia].”
If Roanoke Airport can improve the customer experience and open an additional gate, it could lead to lower fares and more flights, he said.
“It’s one of those self-fulfilling prophecies,” Warner said. “Build it, and they will come.”
Saturday was Warner’s second visit to Roanoke since April, when he rode a bridge at low water along the Greenway in support of the Infrastructure Act.
Local and state politicians joined him alongside airport leaders for a 30-minute meeting closed to the public.
“Pretty exciting stuff. I will let the community share with you when the time is right,” Warner said of the closed-door discussion. “It’s a group that doesn’t lack a vision for the future. How’s that for a teaser?
Other spinoffs from the federal infrastructure law for Virginia over the next five years include about $7.7 billion for highways and bridges, and $1.2 billion for upgrades. of public transport.