The funding, which comes via the federal government spending bill passed by Congress last month, includes $5.2 million for projects at AC Airport and $8.1 million for Air National Guard projects, including upgrades to the Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing that is located at the Egg Harbor Township depot.
The money will pay for the design costs of a new taxiway at AC Airport to provide access to a proposed cargo terminal as well as the development of emerging technologies associated with autonomous vehicles.
Officials say that the new cargo taxiway project is estimated to create nearly 550 construction jobs and up to 100 permanent jobs. They estimate that the initial phase of the Airfield Autonomy Initiative (AAI) at the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park (NARTP) will create about 25 new jobs while reducing the operating costs and labor required to complete a variety of maintenance, security and operational tasks.
In fact, NARTP will work in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command, the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center, the Atlantic County Economic Alliance, and private industry to develop the first-ever dual-use, airfield-specific autonomy command and control systems.
The Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing will use $5.1 million to construct a new Base Main Entry Control Facility (ECF). The additional $3 million will go toward constructing a new hangar to continue maintenance of 18 Primary Assigned F-16s.
Menendez said it was a good day for Atlantic City and Atlantic County residents.
“Every investment we make in this airport – this critical piece of South Jersey infrastructure – is an investment in the people and the families who live and work here,” said Menendez. “The funding we are announcing today is just one of the many ways we are making New Jersey the best place to start a business, the place to do business, and the place to scale a business in this increasingly interconnected world.”
Stephen Dougherty, executive director for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, thanked Menendez for helping to secure the funding.
“The Senator’s continued advocacy, and specifically this recent funding, will allow us to diversify revenue at the airport and get us one step closer to providing long-term economic growth and development to the South Jersey region,” said Dougherty.
In a statement, Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, said the funding will be used to make much-needed upgrades and technology enhancements that will improve safety and better serve the state and region.
“New Jersey’s airports serve as critical transportation and logistics hubs that help grow our economy, create good jobs, and connect our state with the world,” said Booker.
“We are extremely grateful to Sens. Menendez and Booker for their support for both this project and the NARTP,” said Howard Kyle, president/CEO of NARTP. “The goal is for all partners to build relationships that ensure the United States remains the leader in aviation while providing the safest, most efficient aerospace systems in the world. This initiative will also help overcome personnel shortages that impede both the military and civilian operators while enabling operators to focus on more critical, hands-on tasks that boost aircraft turnaround times.”