The money just keeps flowing down to Atlantic City this month as another transportation project has been approved for America’s Favorite Playground. But, this time the improvements aren’t coming on the boardwalk or in the form of improved roadways and casinos. This time it’s coming to the city effort in an effort to drive more traffic to southern New Jersey. The $1.8 million dollar renovation will assist in taxiway rehabilitation as well as a few reconstruction projects at Atlantic City International Airport (ACY). There’s just one more thing. The funding isn’t coming from the state or local governments, it’s not even coming from the South Jersey Transportation Authority. It’s coming from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Why is the FAA Investing in ACY?
While the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) does have some say over the direction of the airport it is not the primary owner of land at the airport. The FAA controls most of it after the city sold 4,312 acres of the airport to the federal government. The FAA will continue to control the airport grounds until it no longer has a use for it in which case, ownership will revert back to the SJTA.
Since the FAA owns a majority of the airport it was only a matter of time before it was included under the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The AIP, according to the FAA website, provides grants to public agencies for the planning and development of public-use airports that are included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). NPIAS airports are those deemed by the government as those airports that act as critical hubs for travel around the nation. So, though the SJTA owns the airport the FAA owns the land and has a vested interest in making sure ACY is running both efficiently and safely.
A Hub Long Neglected
When the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (the organization that oversees the operations at the airport) announced their 10-year, $27.6 billion capital plan the Atlantic City International Airport was surprisingly omitted. No funding would have been a major setback not only for the airport but also the region of Southern New Jersey that relies on the airport as a major transportation hub. When the FAA announced that the airport would be receiving vital improvements local politicians and SJTA officials were overjoyed.
“We are pleased to learn of the award. These investments help the airport maintain its state of excellence,” stated SJTA interim executive director Frank Frankowski.
Hopefully, with some further FAA investment and some help from local and federal contractors the airport can continue to be a major transportation hub and economic asset for the region. Atlantic City could use it.