Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Airport Improvement Grant Announcement
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
July 27, 2018
Thank you Senator Cornyn for that introduction.
Good afternoon, and thank you for coming. Let me thank our very special guests for joining us today. Rep. Kay Granger; Mayor Betsy Price of Fort Worth, and Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas; Sean Donohue, CEO of the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport; and, Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. Also with us is Christine Babcock from Senator Ted Cruz’s office.
Before we begin, let me note the great news out of Washington this morning. Our country’s economy grew at a strong 4.1 % rate in the Second quarter of 2018. That is the highest growth rate since 2014. It shows that the tax cuts passed by Congress and the regulatory reforms launched by this administration are working to create more opportunity for everyone.
To keep that momentum going, today I am announcing an $180 million investment to ensure completion of two major taxiway complexes at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. These improvements will enhance capacity and efficiency by allowing aircraft to taxi without crossing busy runways. This will reduce the risk of inadvertent runway incursions. These improvements are expected to reduce delays by 7 percent over the next 20 years, saving more than $270 million.
The investment is structured as a Letter of Intent and is the first issued in this country by the FAA since 2011. It will provide the $180 million in a series of grants that will be made over the next 7 years. Today, as a down payment, I am also announcing the first grant of $15 million. The Letter Of Intent will allow the airport to proceed with the project immediately with confidence that sufficient future funding is available.
I am also announcing an additional Airport Improvement Program grant of $30 million for runway rehabilitation.
These investments will provide many benefits to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, which is America’s fourth-busiest airport. It handles more than 66 million passengers and 866 million tons of cargo annually.
The Dallas Fort Worth Airport Board – who are here today – worked with state and local officials to make these improvements possible. They protected the critical real estate that provides sufficient space to execute these projects. They undertook the necessary planning analysis. And they worked with air traffic controllers, airport planning experts, and the airlines to design a project that will keep this airport operating at peak efficiency for many years to come. So, congratulations on your vision and team work! And let me commend American Airlines, as well, for its leadership in supporting these important projects.
The Administration not only supports infrastructure like this – it is making it easier to execute these projects. It has begun streamlining the approval process, cutting red tape and reducing unnecessary and wasteful regulations that do not contribute to safety.
The Department of Transportation has been a leader in this effort. The Department has already exceeded the Administration’s initial goal of eliminating two unnecessary and burdensome regulations for every new regulation. In fact, the Department has exceeded this goal and eliminated 4 unnecessary and burdensome regulations for every new regulation. And the Department is on target to hit 6-for-1 at the end of this year. And we achieved these goals without compromising safety or the environment. And this has been done without slowing the down the pace of providing aid to America’s airports. By the end of 2018, the Department will have distributed a total of $3.18 billion in grants to improve America’s airports.
In addition, I’m pleased to announce that the Department has just awarded an additional $100 million to the TEXRail Commuter Line, for a project that will connect downtown Fort Worth with the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. These programs reinforce the natural partnership between the Department and local communities. Counties own and maintain 46 percent of the nation’s public roads, 38 percent of its bridges and more than a third of its public airports. They help pay for 78 percent of the public transit systems. The Department’s role is to be your partner, and empower you to choose the infrastructure that best suits the needs of your community.
Local communities contribute more than funding to infrastructure. Dallas Fort Worth, for example, has played a critical role in the development of numerous safety systems that are now in place around the nation. These include Terminal Doppler Weather Radar and Runway Status Lights. More recently, Dallas Forth Worth was a key participant in an evaluation of systems that could eventually be used to enable airport officials to detect unauthorized drones inside their airspace. So, let me commend your forward-looking innovation to help improve safety.
With that, let me thank all of you—and our very special guests – for coming today. The Department of Transportation looks forward to working with you, to help make these key improvements to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. They are key to enhancing capacity, efficiency, safety and customer experience for this vital hub.
# # #