FAA furloughs stop work on new Albany terminal - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

FAA furloughs stop work on new Albany terminal

Furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration could put a major construction project at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in a long holding pattern.

Bids are supposed to be accepted this week for construction of the airport's new terminal.

That could be put on hold because Congress can't agree on a bill to fund the FAA.

Four thousand FAA workers have been furloughed. The 100 people who work at Albany's airport are still on the job, but if the FAA isn't back to normal within then next several weeks, the construction project could be delayed an entire year.

It's a 1.6 million dollar pad of dirt, the infrastructure for a new airport terminal at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport. Bids to continue construction will be opened Thursday but if the FAA work stoppage continues there will be nowhere for them to go.

"Usually on Friday I would contact the FAA and let them know what our numbers are so they can see if they can fund it for us, now I have no one to call," said Yvette Aehle, The Southwest Georgia Regional Airport Director.

The deadlines to have the finding in place are quickly running out.

"They want all of us to tell them by August 12th whether we're going to be able to obligate funding this year or not, well I can't obligate funding unless I know they're going to be able to give me some funding for the terminal building," said Aehle.

If Congress doesn't act and nonessential FAA personnel remain away from their desks, the worst case scenario is unthinkable for the airport's director and city leaders.

"We have to throw out all the bids for the third time, this is the third time we've bid it, and we'd have to bid it out next summer because once we lose money for this year, we may not get money again until next summer," said Aehle.

"To have pad essentially set and prepared to do the construction and for it to have to wait a year with the elements and that type of thing and of course the temporary facilities we've set up to get folks in and out of planes, which is somewhat inconvenient, we don't want that we want to continue to move forward and get this new airport built," said Wes Smith, Albany Assistant City Manager.

City leaders could take emergency action that might allow the project to move forward, but right now are taking a wait and see attitude in the hopes, Congress will act once again freeing up funding and allowing Albany's project along with other like it to get back on the right course.

Bids had to be thrown out twice before because contractors didn't have enough minority owned businesses involved.

Construction on the new airport terminal began back in February with phase one of the project. It's now complete. The entire 15 million dollar project is expected to be completed by 2013.

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