Illinois state funding benefits airports across Quad Cities region

The $5.6 million in Rebuild Illinois funds pledged this week to the Quad Cities will directly benefit both the Quad Cities International Airport (QCIA) and the Quad Cities region, airport officials say.

Grants for a pair of regional airport projects announced Wednesday are part of $33 million in state capital improvement funds earmarked in the 17th Congressional District. The grants were announced on the QCIA tarmac by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline. The pair also was in the Quad-Cities to headline the Interstate 74 Bridge ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.

In all, Mr. Pritzker recently announced $94 million for 88 airports statewide. Mr. Bustos said the money “will help improve safety and efficiency at airports big and small throughout the state — all while creating good-paying jobs in our communities.”

In a news release, QCIA Executive Director Benjamin Leischner said “Today is a monumental day for Illinois airports. The pandemic made it abundantly clear the important role airports have in moving goods and people safely and efficiently. I want to thank Gov. Pritzker and our elected officials who have heard the call from aviation leaders that investment in our industry is necessary and overdue.”

The airport’s funding from the Illinois capital plan includes $2.3 million for expanding and rehabilitating portions of the general aviation ramp areas. The new space will help increase capacity and promote future development, Mr. Leischner said.

A second project, the realignment of Indian Bluff Road, will benefit all those traveling around the airport each day because it will make the road safer by removing poor sight lines and blind spots. “Safety is the airport’s No. 1 priority and it extends beyond the airfield to the roadways accessed by neighbors and travelers,” the Moline airport said.

The QCIA has an economic impact of more than $700 million, the release said. It owns more than 2,300 acres of land. More than 1,400 people report to work on the airport property every day, airport officials say. That number does not include workers at temporary job sites, for example, construction projects such as these funded through Rebuild Illinois. The $94 million funding represents the largest statewide capital investment program for airports in state history. 

In addition to $5.6 billion for the Quad Cities facility, funding announced for nearby airports in Ms. Bustos’ district included $1.8 million for the Kewanee Municipal Airport and $1.4 million for the Galesburg Municipal Airport.

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