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DP Airport construction project back on track

August 9, 2011

The Deer Park Airport’s $2.33 million “ramp rehabilitation” project received a new lease on life when the U.S. Senate on Friday approved legislation ending the two-week-old Federal Aviation Administration partial shutdown.
The ramp rehab project, which included new runway edge and beacon lighting and a new fuel disbursement system, was put on hold when the Senate refused to pass a House-approved bill before going on a month-long summer break.
The city had hired Kilgore Construction Co. in July with a 90-day window to complete the project.
The Senate’s refusal to agree to the House legislation left nearly 4,000 FAA employees without a job and suspended hundreds of airport construction jobs nationwide.
Airport Manager Penni Loomis said if the impasse was not solved until both houses of Congress returned in September the airport project would have to be rebid with actual work not starting until 2012.
Loomis hopes work can start this week after President Barak Obama signs the legislation into law.
The FAA shutdown also eliminated the agency’s authority to collect federal taxes on fuel and tickets.
The impasse ended last week when the Senate employed the “unanimous consent” procedure. Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) called up the bill and asked that it be passed. Sen. Ben Cardin, (D-Md.), the presiding officer, agreed and it was done.
A bipartisan compromise reached on Aug. 4 cleared the way for Senate passage of the House bill. The compromise included a provision to eliminate $16.5 million in air service subsidies to 13 rural communities. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, however, has the authority to continue the subsidized service to the affected communities if he decides it's necessary.
Republicans had insisted on the subsidy cuts as their price for restoring the FAA to full operation.

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