By Sarah Lowery
With funding now in place, the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Regional Airport appears likely to receive its long-discussed improvements soon.
The airport has been officially announced by federal officials as a recipient of a $2.5 million Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant.
The grant requires a 5 percent match from both the city and county, as was previously approved by each when officials prepared their budgets for this fiscal year. As the Times-News has reported, the airport sought the funding to enable the installation of a new glide-slope system and a runway extension.
Members of the City Council were originally hesitant to sign off on the funding, expressing some concern over the amount of money they put into the airport versus what they get out of it. Ultimately, they voted in favor of chipping in for the project, but they warned that they were not likely to get involved with any matching grants in the foreseeable future.
Airport Manager Joe Tate has said he believes the renovations to the airport will allow it to compete for more potential landings, since the glide-slope is an all-weather system that helps pilots in their descent to the runway during bad weather by giving them improved vertical guidance and control.
Tate told the Times-News recently that additional smaller grants were also being consolidated to support the project, resulting in about $3.1 million worth of work. Construction to rehabilitate the taxiway will be conducted by Denver-based Eaglewood, he added.
“I’m pleased that Lincolnton-Lincoln County Regional Airport will receive this funding to make key improvements that will help ensure safety and durability,” U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. stated in a press release. “We must continue to make investments in infrastructure that will keep North Carolina competitive in a global economy.”
The funding is part of the North Carolina State Block Grant Program.
The FAA first began the State Block Grant Program in 1989, and North Carolina was one of the first three states to participate. Today, the following states participate in the program that makes improvements to “other than primary” airports (nonprimary commercial service, reliever and general aviation airports): Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, Hagan’s release noted.