AMES — Expansion of the Marion Airport could get a shot in the arm through state grants being recommended by the Iowa Department of Transportation, although the grants aren’t as much as desired.
The airport only recently converted from being privately held to a hybrid municipal-private partnership, a necessary merger to become eligible for state grants restricted to municipal airports. The hope is to expand to accommodate larger jets and better serve the local business community.
“We see a lot of promise in that airport,” said Michelle McEnany, director of the Iowa DOT Office of Aviation. “And the community is very supportive of expansion.”
McEnany presented recommendations for the state aviation program to the Iowa Transportation Commission in Ames Tuesday as part of the commission’s regular meeting.
Also at the meeting, the commission approved administrative rule changes for driver’s licenses and Revise Iowa’s Sound Economy (RISE) grants to Davenport, Council Bluffs and two to Waterloo worth nearly $6 million.
The DOT is recommending the commission approve three planning-related aviation grants for zoning, land use and airport layout in Marion worth a combined $105,325, which is 85 percent of the $124,000 total project costs.
However, a more substantial request for $663,677, 85 percent of a $780,797 estimated project, to renovate the airport’s runway is not being recommended. McEnany said the airport’s plans were not developed enough to provide the grant.
“We think it will be a very good project,” she said. “We encourage them to put in an application next year.”
Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn said he is not surprised the larger grant was denied, given the plans were incomplete, but he took heart in the positive feedback about the airport expansion shown through support for the other three grants.
“I think because we are developing a new airport, we’d compare favorably to a project that’s just for maintenance,” Pluckhahn said of chances for a reapplication.
The partnership was approved in March, and Pluckhahn said they anticipate “instant results” after the airport is widened.
The commission heard about $5.3 million in grants being recommending as part of the 2016 state aviation program, which includes the airport improvement program, commercial service program, and the general aviation program.
The commission will vote on the slate of recommendations when it meets in August.
Other projects being recommended include:
— Eastern Iowa Airport: $382,075 to construct a new taxiway and apron with a 15 percent local match, or $67,425, to cover the $449,500 total cost.
— Eastern Iowa Airport: $319,398 to rehabilitate the terminal building, phase three. Total project cost is $8 million.
— Vinton: $40,681 to replace a pole and rotating beacon at Vinton Veterans Municipal Airport with a 15 percent local match, or $7,179, to cover the $47,860 total cost.
— Washington Municipal Airport: $65,963 to construct a hangar apron with a 15 percent local match, or $11,641, to cover the $77,604 total cost.
— Washington Municipal Airport: $150,000 to construct a hangar with a 40 percent local match, or $480,540, to cover the $630,540 total cost.
— Iowa City: $174,930 to expand the aircraft parking apron at Iowa City Municipal Airport with a 30 percent local match, or $74,970, to cover the $249,900 total project cost.