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FAA shutdown could cost ILM projects, jobs


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration is having an effect on our airport. As time goes by before Congress passes a bill to end the shutdown, big projects at Wilmington International are in jeopardy.

"We've never faced anything like this," ILM Deputy Director Julie Wilsey said. "The FAA has always been funded through either a regular budget process or a continuing resolution."

The partial shutdown of the FAA is affecting airports throughout the United States. Airports rely on the FAA to issue grants for major improvement projects, but with the shutdown these projects are on hold and jobs are in the balance.

At Wilmington International Airport, Wilsey and other administrators have growing concerns because of what this shutdown has done in other places.

"They've shut down projects that are in progress, and they've told the contractors that they won't be doing construction this year," Wilsey said.

The FAA shutdown may be having minor effects on ILM now, but in the future it could threaten big projects.

"The impacts could be with our future grants," Wilsey said. "We have two projects we are getting ready to bid next week that will go into our grant under the next 60-90 days, and that represents anywhere from $5-7 million worth of infrastructure and construction work that will be done here at ILM."

Government furloughed FAA employees are needed to write those grants. Both projects at ILM are major airfield asphalt improvements, and if congress does not push through a bill to end the shutdown the projects could be in jeopardy.

"Worst case, we're hoping that they just might be delayed because the grant might be delayed," Wilsey said. "Again, that's because of the backlog that's been created by the FAA shutdown."

The FAA shutdown means the furlough of nearly 75,000 FAA and construction workers nationwide. Democrats say they could pass a bill that would get the FAA working again, but they need Republican cooperation. Republicans still want cuts to subsidies for air service to rural communities.

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