Airport Construction Projects Being Put On Hold

Obama administration officials say contractors have been told to stop work on airport modernization projects across the country because Congress has failed to pass legislation necessary for the work to continue.

Officials said Monday that dozens of stop-work orders have been issued for major airport modernization and update related airport projects. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called on Congress to move forward on a bill to extend the Federal Aviation Administration’s operating authority, which expired at midnight Friday.

From the Fast Lane, U.S. Department of Transportation Blog:

Because Congress failed to pass legislation giving the Federal Aviation Administration the necessary operating authority, FAA employees have been furloughed, construction workers have been sent home from their jobs, and communities are being hurt.

Dozens of stop work orders have been issued for construction on major projects to build and modernize air traffic control towers and other airport and aviation infrastructure across the country.

Already this morning, Paul Scariano, Inc., the contractor on a tower demolition project at La Guardia Airport, had to turn away 40 workers. “It wasn’t easy telling them we’ve been shut down because of a fiscal situation in Washington,” said supervisor Lucca Toscano.  “Some of these guys just got back to work after a long time, and their benefits have all expired.  So for them this is like running into a brick wall, and they’re asking me, ‘How do we explain this to our families?’  I don’t know what to say to them.”

In the meantime, Toscano says, his company still has to pay for the equipment they’ve leased.  “That’s just money out the window,” he says.  “Then there’s the scaffolding we’ve already built and everything that is around the site; we can’t protect any of it.”

In Gulfport, Mississippi, a community still trying to rebound from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, work has been halted on the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport’s new air traffic control tower.  Construction workers, so happy to be on the job, were turned away this morning.

From Florida to Alaska and Maine to California, stop work orders are taking their toll on construction workers as well as our ability to add capacity to the nation’s aviation system.  Stopping this work does not save taxpayers money; rather, as Lucca Toscano made clear, it will add to the costs of these projects

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