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Federal infrastructure funding will bolster jobs and improvements to airport, transportation projects in Fresno

Congressman Jim Costa speaks inside the Fresno airport terminal.

The bi-partisan infrastructure bill that President Biden just signed into law will bring billions to California transportation projects, including Fresno’s airport.

At a news conference inside the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Congressman Jim Costa stood with Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, Fresno Councilmember Tyler Maxwell and others to tout the local benefits of the funding. Costa said President Biden has made it clear: cities must act fast to get this competitive funding.

“He wants to get this money out as quickly as possible for projects that are, as we say, 'shovel ready,’” Costa said.

Part of the transportation funding is set aside for airport improvements. That includes $5 billion in grants for terminal development projects. The airport’s Director of Aviation Kevin Meikle said the timing could not be better.

“We've been planning this expansion program for a number of years,” he said.

The airport just completed a new parking structure and has a design concept in place for a new terminal. And Fresno has one of the fastest growing airports in the nation with 2.6 million passengers this year, said Mayor Jerry Dyer.

“First come, first served. With Congressman Costa's help, I'm very, very confident that we're going to be funded at a very high level for that terminal expansion,” Dyer said.

The mayor highlighted Fresno’s plan to roll out fully electric busses, adding five more to the city’s fleet in 2022.

In addition to airport improvements, Costa outlined $25 billion would go to California highway improvement projects like Highway 99 and State Route 41. High Speed Rail would also be a priority as part of $9.45 billion set aside for California public transportation options, including Amtrak and ACE Train.

Costa said the Valley’s air quality was a major concern that will be addressed with clean energy options.

“This will be the most significant investment in electric vehicle recharging stations, for starters,” he said.

Costa added hydrogen and renewable fuels with investments in solar and wind power will be a focus in funding to cut back on air pollutants.

Fresno City Councilmember Tyler Maxwell said improvements to the Valley’s air quality extend beyond clean energy with expanding tree infrastructure in Fresno, as well as a program to replace existing asphalt with a new non-porous asphalt that reflects heat.

In addition to transportation, water infrastructure projects will be another major focus with $1.5 billion to improve water storage, $3.5 billion to improve drinking water infrastructure and more.

Local leaders emphasized that all the investments in infrastructure projects will lead to more jobs.

“We do know that this infrastructure bill is going to put people to work. And it's good paying jobs and it's going to be sustained funding for these good paying jobs, which will translate into people being able to transform their lives,” Dyer said.

Chuck Riojas, of the Fresno, Madera, Tulare, Kings Building Trades Council said pre-apprenticeship and workforce training programs will be ready to provide the skilled workers needed to execute these projects.

“We have the people here. We have the students graduating from high school. We have the students graduating from community colleges. We have them getting out of the military. The next place they should look is apprenticeship opportunities in the Build and Trades,” he said.

Congressman Costa expects there will be a concentrated effort to disperse the funding for these projects in the next 12 months.

Soreath Hok is a multimedia journalist with 16 years of experience in radio, television and digital production. At KVPR she covers local government, politics and other local news.