By Tom Hacker
February 10, 2011
A record-setting grant awarded to the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport will help push ahead much-needed runway repairs, possibly as soon as August.
The $400,000 grant announced Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper is the maximum amount established by the Colorado Division of Aeronautics in a year when the grant pool funded through aviation fuel tax revenue hit its highest level ever.
Fort Collins-Loveland is among 46 Colorado airports that will divvy up $11.5 million that the state collected from aircraft operators in the state during 2010.
Moreover, that money will help leverage more than $76 million in Federal Aviation Administration funds – including $7 million targeted for Fort Collins-Loveland – for crucial airport improvements statewide.
“We got the max, and we’re pretty pleased about that,” said Keith Reester, Loveland public works director and acting airport manager.
The state grant, plus local matches paid through airport revenue, more than accounts for the required 5 percent match that the FAA requires for the runway reconstruction project, meaning that the airport can afford a few frills that otherwise would be out of reach.
The award also will give incoming airport director Jason Licon, who begins his duties Monday, some flexibility in paying for projects that had been planned but not funded, Reester said.
For example, the purchase of a new paint striper – a mundane but expensive piece of equipment – and repairs to the ramps linking general aviation hangars to the airport’s runway can move ahead.
The runway project, scratched last summer when the FAA canceled its grant to the airport, will cost between $7 million and $8 million and probably will necessitate closure of the airport for two weeks in August.
While the FAA’s $7 million commitment to rebuilding the runway is not guaranteed, Reester said he is optimistic.
“Based on our discussions with the FAA, we’re feeling pretty positive about it,” he said.
Reester said the project won’t lengthen the runway or add capacity to the airport.
Former Fort Collins-Loveland Airport director Dave Gordon, who left the post last year to become director of the Colorado Division of Aeronautics, said the record-setting 2010 grant cycle would move the airport closer to a goal of paying its own way.
“That airport is right on the cusp of being financially self-sufficient,” Gordon said. “I tried to move it toward that goal when I was in that job, and now I think they’re almost there.”
The $400,000 state grant will be matched with $291,265 in local money, all of it derived from the $2.50-per-person passenger facilities charges paid by travelers on Allegiant Air’s flights to and from Phoenix and Las Vegas.
The maximum award in previous years under the state fuel tax grant program had been $250,000.