As the snow flies, the QC Airport plans to use $2.86M in new federal funds for snow removal equipment

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When the weather gets frightful, even Santa needs a lift. The Quad Cities International Airport in Moline plans to use its new federal grant to buy snow removal equipment.

The Quad Cities International Airport will receive an initial $2.86 million a year as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The airport will likely use this funding — which will be that amount each year for five years — to purchase crucial snow removal equipment, spokeswoman Ashleigh Davis announced Tuesday. Any remaining funding will go toward the airport’s major $20-million terminal renovation plan, Project GATEWAY.

“We have an obligation not only to the FAA, but to our travelers to keep our airport safe and operational during snow events — which is why snow removal equipment is absolutely imperative,” Benjamin Leischner, the QC Airport’s executive director, said Tuesday. “The machines are large, complex and are run through some of the harshest conditions so having enough machines and parts can help save on costly maintenance and help reduce delays or cancellations of flights.”

Ben Leischner is executive director of the QC Airport.

The airport is seeking to replace or purchase a variety of equipment, including a rotary snowblower, plow trucks, runway snow brooms and more. Salt cannot be used on airport runways because it is corrosive and can create flying object debris, which poses a safety hazard to aircraft, according to an airport release. A fleet of equipment is used instead to properly clear snow and ice.

Although the funds have been announced, airports do not yet know when they will be received. The airport has roughly $120 million over the next five years of capital investment need. A significant portion will be federally appropriated, the airport said.

Project GATEWAY, first and foremost, is the biggest capital improvement need, Davis said. “We are working to build a flexible plan that can be scaled up or down depending on the grants we receive and compete for,” she said Tuesday.

Outside of that, planned projects include rehabilitating several areas including general aviation ramps, parking lots, Runway 13/31 and the airfield electrical vault, and improving taxiway drainage.

The $2.86 million in new federal dollars will be awarded annually, with an assessment after year 2 to review airport activity and adjust if needed, Davis said. “We don’t yet know when applications will open for the competitive grants, some of which are specifically for small airport terminal projects.”

More than 3,000 airports in the U.S. received grants totaling $2.89 billion for fiscal year 2022. The funds, which were determined based upon an airport’s size and activity, may be used for runways, taxiways, safety and sustainability projects, terminal development, airport-transit connections, and roadway projects.

More than $25 billion has been designated for airports in the federal infrastructure law, including $5 billion in competitive grants for airport terminal projects. The QC Airport will aggressively apply for competitive grants to support Project GATEWAY.

One of the renderings for the planned $20-million renovation to Quad Cities International Airport, Moline, which has won $2.85 million in new federal funding.

Grants part of $9.6 million in Illinois 17th District

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) announced the new QCIA grant Thursday, Dec. 23, among more than $9.6 million for airports in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.

The funds come as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law signed into law in November. Earlier this month, Bustos joined Governor J.B. Pritzker to announce more than $33 million in Rebuild Illinois funding for local airports.

“I voted for the bipartisan infrastructure law to bring jobs and federal dollars to Northwest and Central Illinois,” Bustos said last week. “Today, I’m thrilled to announce that more than $9.6 million in infrastructure funding will be coming to airports big and small across our region,” Bustos said in a release. “These investments will help improve safety and efficiency at our local airports – all while supporting good-paying jobs in our communities. I look forward to seeing these funds put folks to work improving our airports.”

The QCIA board recently approved Mortenson (based in Minneapolis) as the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) for the airport’s $20-million terminal renovation project announced earlier this year.

This selection is the next major milestone in the multi-year project that will modernize the Moline airport’s nearly 40-year old facility. Work is expected to begin by fall 2022

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