Lehigh Valley Airport Expansion Opens Thanks to Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

US Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh), Gov. Josh Shapiro and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg celebrating the expansion of the Lehigh Valley Airport on July 28, 2023. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

July 28, 2023

Residents in the Lehigh Valley and the surrounding region are going to benefit from the expansion of the Lehigh Valley Airport, which was able to install a new four lane security checkpoint using federal funding.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the Lehigh Valley Airport in Allentown on Friday for the grand opening of a new security checkpoint and connector that will make it easier for passengers to travel through the airport.

Buttigieg was joined by Gov. Josh Shapiro, US Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh) and other elected officials for the event.

“This was among the very first projects that we were able to announce last year that we funded through that Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that the President fought so hard for that Susan Wild and her colleagues in Congress made possible,” Buttigieg said in his remarks.

The Lehigh Valley Airport received $5 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to modernize its terminal and make critical upgrades to security checkpoints. Because of this funding, the airport was able to install a new four lane security checkpoint as reported by Lehigh Valley Live.

“Now that this is complete, passengers are gonna’ be able to get through security and get to their gate more quickly, more conveniently, more simply, which means a better and easier experience for everyone,” Buttigieg said. “It means more people will choose this airport in the first place, and it means those ambitions for growth that we heard are going to be made good on.”

Additional funding came from other federal grants, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also invested $13 million into the expansion and modernization project. In total, the terminal expansion cost over $35 million and connects the baggage check-in area to the airport’s main terminal. Originally, terminals at the airport were connected through underground tunnels.

The construction of the connector and checkpoints was built with the help of over 100 union workers.

“This is what it looks like when [members of] government, at every level—local, state, and federal—come together to make meaningful investments in our communities. Federal, local, and state officials work together to get this done,” Shapiro said while speaking at the opening ceremony.

“This expansion should send a clear message that Allentown and the Lehigh Valley are ready to drive innovation and economic opportunity on a national and global scale,” the governor added.

To commemorate the opening of the new checkpoint and connector, Buttigieg, Shapiro and Wild were given boarding passes to walk through the checkpoint. Previously, passengers used to walk through an underground tunnel that connected the check-in area to the terminal.

Even though the Lehigh Valley Airport is smaller than its counterparts in Philadelphia or Newark, this expansion will give travelers the option of choosing something more local. Wild spoke of these benefits during her remarks.

“I’m really hoping that all of our community will be able to soon consider this to be their main airport, and not just people from the Lehigh Valley,” she said. “People from Northeastern Pennsylvania, people from New Jersey, people who don’t want to travel to Philadelphia or Newark. I just think we’re on the cusp of that.”

 

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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