Concordia awarded $6.95M airport grant
The city of Concordia was notified on Wednesday that it had been awarded a $6.95 million supplemental appropriation award from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program.
Concordia, which had submitted an application to the FAA in October 2018, will use the grant funds, which did not require a local match, for new construction of a longer and wider runway and taxiway rehabilitation and construction at Blosser Municipal Airport.
The runway at the airport will be lengthened to 3,700 feet and widened to 75 feet. That will allow it to handle larger aircraft.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to enhance the runway and taxiway at Blosser Municipal Airport as a result of this grant award. It would have been extremely difficult to fund the 10 percent local match required to accomplish this program within our normal capital improvement funds infusion from the FAA, KDOT (Kansas Department of Transportation) and our local general fund, and still provide for other infrastructure needs within our community,” Concordia city manager Amy Lange said in a press release, “ Lengthening and widening the runway sets the stage for larger planes to take off and land at Blosser Municipal Airport, thereby allowing existing businesses to expand, removing a barrier to new businesses considering Concordia and providing for safer operations for air ambulance service to support our local hospital.”
Lange informed the members of the city commission during its meeting Wednesday night that the city will now wait for official guidance from the FAA.
“Initially, when we applied, what they told us was that with the second round of funding, it was applying for funding in 2019 and 2020 for those projects that are ready to go. I don't know if those rules have changed or not. So, hopefully, we will start to see some movement on the project in the next couple of years. But again, this is federal money, so it is going to take a little bit.”
The $1 billion supplemental appropriation to the FAA Airport Improvement Program was authorized by Congress through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. The awards are limited to small, rural general aviation airports, with no local match required.
It was announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao that $779 million in supplemental funding was being awarded in the second round of funding to 127 airports in the United States.
Blosser Muncipal Airport is one of three in Kansas to be a awarded a grant in the second round of funding, along with Ellsworth Municipal Airport and Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita.
“This supplemental funding allows us to invest in important infrastructure needs at the nation's airports, especially those serving small and rural communities,” Chao said in a statement on Wednesday.
The FAA stated in a release on Wednesday that, “selected projects include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons and terminals. The construction and equipment supported by this funding increase the airports' safety, emergency response capabilities, capacity and could support further potential growth and development within the airport's region. Under the secretary's leadership, the FAA is administering the supplemental funding to strengthen the safety and efficiency of America's airports. These investments increase the nation's competitiveness and improve the quality of life for the traveling public. According to the FAA's most recent economic analysis, U.S. civil aviation accounts for $1.6 trillion in total economic activity and supports nearly 11 million jobs.”
Concordia Mayor Mark Matthew expressed his appreciation for all of those who contributed to the airport project in a statement released Wednesday.
“Application and advocacy for this grant award was certainly a team effort. We wish to thank all those who aided in this journey, including our local airport advisory board members Steve Richard and Jason Rourke, airport planning consultant Brad Waller of Alfred Benesch & Company, city manager Amy Lange, former CloudCorp executive director Ashley Hutchinson, our U.S. Congressmen Representative Roger Marshall and Senator Jerry Moran, our Kansas Congresswomen Senator Elaine Bowers and Representative Susan Concannon. We also wish to thank our regional FAA representative Jason Knipp and KDOT Aviation Division staffers who guided us through the application process and listened to orations regarding the need for enhancements to our runway. This project is one example of how cooperative efforts result in positive, forward momentum in our community,” Matthew said.
Moran visited Blosser Municipal Airport last December to gather facts on the grant application and offer his support.
“Whether it is an air ambulance transporting a patient to an urban hospital, or a business working to get their products across the country, Blosser Municipal Airport represents a lifeline from Concordia to the rest of the world, which I saw firsthand when I visited in December,” Moran said in a statement, “I was pleased to provide support for this grant which will extend the airport's capabilities, and I look forward to working with community leaders to see this project through its completion.”
Marshall also issued a statement on the grant award to Concordia.
“Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to tour the airport facilities in Concordia, and have seen firsthand the work that the airport is doing for Cloud County. The ability to transport goods and personnel via air service is an important factor in attracting new businesses to the region and expanding existing ones, further improving the quality of life as well as the economies of our small towns. Continuing to improve and expand the services that municipal airports like Concordia can provide is vital to the growth and development of our rural communities,” Marshall said.