Air travel may be unpleasant at times, but it's also lavishly funded, according to Senator Maria Cantwell.

Cantwell, a Democrat, has represented our fair state since 2001. (Both she and Sen. Patty Murray are among the most senior members of the upper chamber.) She claims partial credit for the $47M conferred upon Washington airports in recent months.

Cantwell chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. By her count, nearly 30 airports in Washington State have received funding this year through a handful of federal programs - two of which, the Airport Infrastructure Grant (AIG) program and the Airport Terminal Program (ATP), owe their existence to the much-feted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

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Cantwell "played a key role in incorporating the AIG and ATP programs in the 2021 BIL," according to her press office.

Specific uses vary, but this money, Cantwell says, has helped keep our airports humming chirpily. The money can be put toward flight capacity, safety, modernization and enhancement of the "overall passenger experience."

The airport windfall disproportionately benefited the eastern part of the state, which received a handsome $12.7M. This includes nearly $6.5M for Spokane's ambitious Concourse C West Terminal Expansion project.

About $10M was allotted to Central WA. Pangborn Memorial - the little airport that could - got some help for snow removal and runway reconstruction.

Cantwell is quoted as calling Central Washington "the heart of our state's growth and innovation. Upgrading our airport infrastructure is not just crucial to increasing connectivity for our rural communities, but also ensuring that this dynamic region remains competitive and well-connected to the global economy."

The Senate primary takes place in less than a month. Cantwell faces a challenge from Republican physician Raul Garcia.

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Gallery Credit: Billy Jenkins

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