State Doles Out Grant Funding to Region’s Airports
by Gus Jarvis
Mar 18, 2012 | 995 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WESTERN SLOPE – Last week, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that both Telluride and Montrose regional airports, along with Nucla’s Hopkins Field, are three of 47 Colorado airports to receive funding from the state’s Aviation Discretionary Grant Program this year.

Hickenlooper, in an announcement on March 9, said $20.4 million in state aviation fuel tax revenues will be distributed to 47 airports through the grant program administered by the Colorado Aeronautical Board and the Division of Aeronautics of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

In total the grants will leverage local and federal funds to $61.3 million in airport improvements, ranging from runway lighting, runways, taxiways, and aprons to the acquisition of firefighting and snow removal equipment. These necessary investments will enhance safety and access for the traveling public and aviators statewide. The 2012 grants range in size from $3,947 to $1.9 million.

TEX received $358,684 from the grant program. Part of the funding will be used to complete crack filling and sealing on the airport’s runway while another portion of the grant will be used to match funding in applying for a $7 million federal grant. If awarded, that grant, according to Airport Manager Rich Nuttall, will be used for Federal Aviation Administration runway safety area improvements.

Nuttall said he hopes to find out in the near future if the airport receives the federal grant funding. The crack filling/sealing project will probably close the airport for a short period of time, he said, but the project has yet to be scheduled.

MJT received $400,000 in grant funding for an airfield generator and to match funds for an FAA runway overlay. Another $400,000 grant was awarded to Nucla’s Hopkins Field (AIB) for construction of a new terminal building.

“Colorado’s airports are an important part of our state’s economic engine,” Hickenlooper said in a statement issued to The Watch. “By leveraging these grants with local and federal funds, these critical airport improvements will create jobs and help ensure that Colorado’s transportation system can meet the growing needs of our businesses and travel industry.”

A 2008 study commissioned by CDOT Aeronautics indicated that economic activity generated by Colorado’s 14 commercial airports and 60 public-use airports results in more than 340,000 jobs, with a payroll in excess of $11 billion and total economic activity generated by businesses, tenants, and other on-airport activities at more than $32 billion annually. A State of Massachusetts aeronautics study indicated that 43 jobs with $2 million in payroll are generated for each $6 million spent on airport construction. Regionally, both MJT and TEX are integral to the area’s tourist economies.

Colorado Aeronautical Board Chairman Harold Patton of Greenwood Village said 2011 was a good year for the aviation fund.

“We are pleased that the aviation fund is in good health so it can help provide necessary investment in critical aviation infrastructure for our public-use airports,” he said. “This shows yet another way that aviation contributes to Colorado’s economy.”

The Aviation Discretionary Grant Program was instituted by an amendment to the Colorado Constitution in 1992. Proposals from public-use airports are received and evaluated by CDOT Aeronautics staff and approved by the Aeronautical Board, which is comprised of aviation industry representatives appointed by the governor and approved by the Colorado Senate.

gjarvis@watchnewspapers.com or @gusgusj

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