Federal, state funds target area airport safety upgrades
For example, Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield is to receive more than $19 million in federal funds to build a dirt runway safety-area expansion, said Kenny Maenpa, airport manager.
Airport personnel plan to relocate the intersection of Colorado Highway 128 and Interlocken Boulevard this year to create 400 more feet of runway safety area and come into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, Maenpa said. After working on the project since 2006, the airport received funds from the Federal Aviation Administration this year.
Creating the safety area and a corresponding dirt taxiway run-up area will accommodate the traffic that uses the airport these days, Maenpa said. The land drops off at the end of the current runway, he said, so dirt will be added there. The airport also is adding a navigation building and a new airport service road as part of the project.
“This is by no means a field of dreams. It’s simply an enhancement to meet the traffic needs we have operating (now) in and out of the airport,” Maenpa said.
At Erie Municipal Airport, a $601,000 taxiway lighting project is on tap. Adding the lights and new guidance signs will improve operational safety at night, Fred Diehl, assistant to the Erie town administrator, said in an email.
The project is expected to start late this summer. Some $150,000 in funding is coming from the FAA. Another $400,000 or so is coming from a state Aviation Discretionary Grant program, which doles out funds generated from a tax on airplane fuel. The town of Erie is picking up the rest of the tab.
Erie also is working on a $250,000 airport master-plan update project that will govern development 20 years into the future — including a possible runway expansion. Funds are coming from the FAA and from state and local governments, said Jason Hurd, owner of Vector Air Management LLC, the private company in charge of running the airport.
“In general, the state and the FAA are very supportive to fund the master plan,” Hurd said, adding that Erie Airport “is a vital airport of the Colorado airport system.”
At Vance Brand Municipal Airport in Longmont, a new perimeter fence will be built with $400,000 in state funds. The airport is too small to have a control tower, and a restaurant on the premises is open only from May to September, but it’s important to keep up with safety measures, said Tim Barth, airport manager.
In fact, being a smaller airport means less congestion for pilots, Barth said, touting Vance Brand as a good place for pilots to go if they don’t want to deal with talking to control tower personnel.
Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office handed out 44 grants to airports across the state totaling $20.6 million for 2013. FAA grants to projects in Colorado this year included $200,000 for a feasibility study to locate Spaceport Colorado at Front Range Airport, six miles east of Denver. The site could one day offer space tourism, proponents say.
The state fuel tax went into effect in 1991 after legislators approved it. Since then, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics has reimbursed 65 percent of the taxes to airports. The remaining 35 percent of the revenue goes to maintenance, capital equipment and development at Colorado’s 79 public-use airports.
“We’re operating safely and efficiently,” Maenpa said, “so that’s good.”
More breaking news...
$1,700 worth of playhouse
Arca Biopharma says it may close if funding drive fails