May 17, 2011 By Eric Russell
Nine communities will split $2.3 million in funds from the Federal Aviation Administration to make various improvements to their local airports, members of Maine’s congressional delegation announced.
Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton will receive the biggest share – $650,000 – to purchase snow removal equipment and runway markers. Bangor International Airport will get $451,000 to rehabilitate its apron and maintain structural integrity of the pavement.
“Because airports are so important to communities and businesses, these projects hold positive, long-term economic benefits for the regions they serve,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“These FAA grants will help these small airports make the necessary upgrades and developments to improve their air travel services and safety,” added U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins in a joint statement.
Other grants to be awarded include:
$43,700 to the town of Carrabassett Valley to rehabilitate the runway at the Sugarloaf Regional Airport.
$80,800 to the city of Old Town to rehabilitate the runway at the Old Town Municipal Airport.
$81,100 to the town of Lincoln for the design phase of the rehabilitation of a runway at the Lincoln Regional Airport.
$268,500 to the city of Caribou to remove potential obstructions near the runway at the Caribou Municipal Airport.
$461,600 to Knox County to purchase snow removal equipment and make runway repairs at the Knox County Regional Airport.
$67,400 to the town of Norridgewock to install perimeter fencing and remove obstructions at the Central Maine Airport.
$179,200 to the town of Machias to update the airport master plan and identify future needs at the Machias Valley Airport.
The FAA grant funds were approved despite the financial uncertainly of the federal Essential Air Service program, which provides funding to small airports throughout the country, including many in Maine.
In early April, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to adopt a four-year reauthorization of the FAA budget that would eliminate the Essential Air Service program. The U.S. Senate had voted earlier on a bill to keep EAS funding flat and now the two chambers will work on a joint bill in conference committee.
Of the Maine airports that are slated to received FAA improvement grants, only Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport and Bangor International Airport receive EAS funding. The program was originally established in 1978 as part of airline deregulation to ensure a minimum level of air service to smaller communities that might otherwise lose service because of economic factors.
Source: BANGOR DAILY NEWS