Upstate airports, from the smallest county ones to the largest regional ones, would be eligible to compete for five $40 million awards to improve their facilities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday.
Seventy-four airports, ranging from the Greater Rochester International Airport to the Westchester County Airport, would be eligible to compete for the $200 million pot, Cuomo said.
Smaller airports, like the Elmira Corning Regional Airport and the Dutchess County Airport, could also vie for the money.
The announcement was the latest in a string of major infrastructure announcements the Democratic governor has made in advance of his State of the State and budget address Wednesday.
He has announced a new rail line for the Long Island Rail Road, a $22 billion investment in upstate roads and bridges and a four-year toll freeze on the state Thruway and Tappan Zee Bridge.
“Infrastructure is the foundation of our economy – and this year we are going to build and rebuild for the future,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Cuomo said the money would aid the upstate economy by enhancing the airports and making the region more attractive to private businesses.
“Airports are huge economic drivers, especially in upstate,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, Broome County, who co-chairs the Legislative Aviation Caucus. “We’ve been advocating for vital infrastructure improvements at our airports for a long time.”
The focus on upstate airports comes as the state has vowed to overhaul the aging LaGuardia and JFK airports in New York City.
The upstate competition would provide the five grants to airports that can best show ways to enhance safety, improve operations, reduce environmental impact and help passengers, Cuomo’s office said.
The focus of the applications, his office said, should be on ways to create jobs, use “green” building techniques and focus on renewable energy, as well as gaining private investments.
The money is expected to be part of Cuomo’s 2016-17 budget proposal for the fiscal year that starts April 1. The state Legislature would have to approve the plan.