USDOT announces $16 million in infrastructure grants to three airports in Wyoming
According to a May 15, 2019, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) press release, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced the intent to award $779 million in supplemental federal infrastructure grants to 127 airports in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
“This supplemental funding allows us to invest in important infrastructure needs at the nation’s airports, especially those serving smaller and rural communities,” said U.S. Chao.
Three Wyoming public-use airports were included in the list of U.S. airports slated for additional federal funding. These airports include the Casper/Natrona County International Airport (CPR), Rawlins Municipal/Harvey Field (RWL) and Torrington Municipal Airport (TOR). Selected projects include runway and taxiway work, as well as renovation and expansion of an aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) training facility.
The largest of the three intended grants in Wyoming, for $8,714,750, will be used to rehabilitate an ARFF training facility and purchase a new 3,000-gallon ARFF vehicle.
“Both the facility and vehicle are reaching the end of their useful life, so without these funds to purchase a new vehicle and reconstruct the training facility, we would be looking at winding down the operations here,” said Glenn Januska, airport director, in a May 14 media release. “To extend the life of the facility and training vehicle, plus provide much needed training space, will allow the facility to be used many years in the future.”
In addition to the grant for the ARFF updates in Casper, the intention to award grants was announced for projects at two other Wyoming airports.
Rawlins Municipal/Harvey Field is slated to receive $2,975,000 to rehabilitate a runway. The runway, which is critical for regional fire-fighting and medical flights, was nearing the point of having to be reconstructed without this grant funding, which would have significantly increased the cost of the project, said Melissa Palka, WYDOT airport engineer.
Torrington Municipal Airport is slated to receive $5,000,000 to relocate and extend a taxiway, increasing safety, Palka said.
This funding is in addition to the $3.31 billion awarded in FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding during fiscal year 2018, and $205 million awarded in the first portion of supplemental AIP funding in September 2018. The construction and equipment supported by this funding increases airports safety, emergency response capabilities, capacity and will support further potential growth and development within each airport’s region.
“We value the strong, collaborative relationship we have with the FAA, in particular the Denver Airports District Office,” said Brian Olsen, WYDOT Aeronautics administrator. “These projects will help the state provide a safe, efficient transportation system for the traveling public.”
FAA published a Federal Register notice on July 9, 2018, explaining the supplemental funding evaluation criteria and submission process. After the FAA awarded $205 million to 37 airports in 34 states in September 2018, airports in October 2018 submitted additional funding requests for grant awards in fiscal years 2019 or 2020.
The requirements under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 include:
• Requiring the FAA to give “priority consideration” to specific types of airports (smaller and more rural airports);
• For non-primary airports, there is no local match required for the work covered by the grant; and
• Requiring the FAA to obligate the supplemental funding by September 2020.
Under the Secretary’s leadership, the FAA is administering the supplemental funding to strengthen the safety and efficiency of America’s airports. These investments increase the nation’s competitiveness and improve the quality of life for the traveling public. According to the FAA’s most recent economic analysis, U.S. civil aviation accounts for $1.6 trillion in total economic activity and supports nearly 11 million jobs.
According to WYDOT’s most recent economic analysis, 35 airports in the Wyoming Aviation System account for $1.4 billion in total economic activity and support more than 12,000 jobs annually.