By: Rick Rouan
The Ohio Department of Transportation is analyzing the state’s general aviation airports as it looks to set future funding priorities.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is taking a tour of the state to help shape funding priorities for future capital projects at Ohio’s small airports.
The department is trying to find out how the 97 publicly funded general aviation airports throughout Ohio contribute to their individual communities, what improvements are needed and what concerns exist about local airports. It’s tapping the airports, pilots and the public to help answer those questions and compiling the results as part of ODOT’s Airport Focus Study.
ODOT already has hosted public meetings in three cities — Springfield, Cambridge and Findlay — and has plans for four more, including one on Jan. 15th in Delaware. Central Ohio is home to seven general aviation airports, including the Ohio State University airport, Bolton Field and Delaware Municipal-Jim Moore Field, according to a list ODOT provided.
“This study will result in a process by which ODOT and the FAA will be able to optimize investment in Ohio’s airport system with an eye toward safety, efficiency and economic growth,” ODOT Spokesman Steve Faulkner said in an email. “The study will identify needed system improvements, develop a framework for prioritizing those projects, and assess the economic contribution of each airport to the state’s economy.”
What ODOT learns from the study will inform future funding decisions for airports that might need new runways or security fencing, Faulkner said. How much funding will be available and how much will be contributed by the state and the Federal Aviation Administration still is unclear, he said.
What is clear is that the state has a lot of general aviation airports that likely are going to be vying for future money. Of the 104 airports throughout Ohio, 97 are considered the smaller general aviation airports that don’t handle large commercial flights. You can strike Port Columbus International Airport, Rickenbacker International Airport and large commercial centers in Cleveland, Dayton, Akron, Toledo and Youngstown from the list.
Those commercial airports have had their own funding problems. Declining traffic throughout the recession hurt passenger facility charges they use to raise money for capital projects, and passengers are one part of the formula that the FAA uses to dish out annual grants.