Two Louisiana airports will receive a combined $7.7 million through a $5 billion Airport Terminals Program included in the infrastructure law approved by Congress last year.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday announced $1 billion in grants for more than 90 projects across the country aimed at “Building Better Airport Terminals,” including funds for both the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and Lake Charles Regional Airport.

“Thanks to the federal bipartisan infrastructure law, the Baton Rouge Airport will receive $5.2 million and the Lake Charles Airport will receive $2.5 million for upgrades,” Gov. John Bel Edwards posted to Twitter. “This funding will make life easier for travelers and create more opportunities for our communities.”

In Baton Rouge, two passenger boarding bridges will be replaced with more accessible and energy efficient bridges, which will “improve passenger capacity and ensure Americans with Disabilities Act compliance for individuals with access and functional needs,” according to an FAA statement.

The Lake Charles grant will also replace two passenger boarding bridges for the same reasons.

“Our airports are the first impression we make on potential investors looking to do business in Louisiana,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. “Improving our airports allows our states to be competitive and create new opportunities in our communities. This is just another piece of funding for Louisiana we secured in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill with much more to come.”

Cassidy noted that the funding for 2022 represents the first round of grants for the five-year, $5 billion Airport Terminals Program, which is one of multiple programs that will spend a total of $20 billion on airport infrastructure.

“It’s going to help make air travel safer, more accessible and more efficient,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “And it’s going to create a lot of good jobs in communities of all sizes.”

Buttigieg said the government received 658 applications from 532 airports for 2022, which illustrates the “very competitive program” is necessary to address improvements that traditionally have been funded by municipalities and airlines.

“I don’t think anybody could look at airports across America today and say that the existing system and the existing levels of funding had been adequate,” he said. “America is a country that brought the modern aviation age to the world. And yet around the world, in most rankings of airport quality, not one of our airports ranks among the top 25. That’s something that we have to change.”

The grants cover a variety of different terminal improvements, with 76 to increase sustainability, 73 to improve access for those with disabilities, and 47 to improve access to disadvantaged populations and rural airports.

The terminal improvement funding comes about a month after federal officials announced $518 million for 416 grants for the second part of the 2022 Airport Improvement Program, which also funneled funds to more than 50 Louisiana airports.

The largest Louisiana grants from the AIP program include $14.5 million for the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, $3.1 million for the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, $2.8 million for the Shreveport Regional Airport, $2.3 million for the Lafayette Regional/Paul Fournet Field Airport, and $1.6 for the Alexandria International Airport.

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