Construction crews are hard at work building what will eventually be a new baggage claim area at the Long Beach Airport.
What You Need To Know
- The Long Beach Airport is just one of 167 airports across California getting infrastructure money from the Build Back Better Plan
- The money will help airports upgrade terminals, buildings and other aging infrastructure
- It’s providing a lift for airports who saw the pandemic slash their revenue as travelers stayed home
- LAX is getting $79 million, the largest share of the funding but has not said precisely how it plans to use it
Most of the funding for this portion of the project is coming from the recent federal infrastructure bill passed in November.
“It’s five years of funding and in the first year, we’re slated to receive $6.2 million and we’re anticipating receiving additional funding for each of the remaining four years of that program,” said Kate Kuykendall, the airport spokesperson.
She said Long Beach is the oldest airport in California, which opened in 1924. According to Kuykendall, the current plans are to use the rest of the infrastructure funding in the next four years to renovate and repair the historic terminal from 1941.
“Some of the work that needs to be done is a seismic retrofit, restoring our beautiful mosaic tiles, modernizing our bathrooms on the first and second floors,” Kuykendall said.
The plan is to house the car rental counters inside the renovated terminal.
A new ticket lobby, paid for with airport revenue, will open this spring. It will feature common use ticket counters, a modern look and more space for passengers.
Construction began in 2020, but the pandemic caused delays.
“Things that were off the shelf two, three-day lead times, now are taking months,” said Garrett Geane, Senior Project Engineer for Swinerton.
Besides delaying construction, the pandemic has also slashed airport revenue because of fewer travelers because of COVID, even almost two years later.
“We’re still approximately 20-25% down in our passenger numbers, which directly affects our cash flow and our ability to pay for these construction projects,” Kuykendall said.
Of all the California airports, LAX will receive the largest share, more than $79 million to improve infrastructure, but airport leaders said they have not yet determined exactly how it will be used.
Other SoCal airports receiving money include:
- $11.6 million for John Wayne Airport in Orange County
- More than $7.9 million for Hollywood-Burbank Airport
- $763,000 for the Van Nuys Airport
- $295,000 for the San Gabriel Valley Airport.
“This infrastructure funding is a real great jolt in the arm to be able to augment the existing funding sources that we have here to complete the program,” Kuykendall said.
A much-needed lift for an airport, like so many others, still recovering from a painful pandemic.
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