Thursday, March 17, 2016

Central Colorado Regional Airport (KAEJ), Buena Vista: Improvements funded by nearly $1M in grants

Over the previous 2 years, around $1 million has been spent on infrastructure improvements at the Central Colorado Regional Airport.

Town administrator Brandy Reitter said approximately 95 percent of those funds have come from either federal or state allocated grants and funds.

“It really lessens the financial burden on the town to support the airport,” Reitter said about the grants.

Most recently, CCRA received a $198,000 entitlement grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, which Reitter said will be used to construct a snow removal equipment building at the airport within the year.

“We will finally have somewhere to house all our equipment that’s been sitting out in the sun all day,” airport manager Jill VanDeel said.

Total cost for the SRE Building is expected to be $220,000 which includes a 5 percent match from the town and a 5 percent match from the state, totaling $22,000 in matched funds, Reitter said.

“We’ve had a lot of big projects at the airport in the previous 2 years,” Reitter said. “It’s the most money that has been spent (at the airport) in recent memory.”

Through the same FAA entitlement grant and Colorado Department of Transportation grants last year, Reitter said the airport was able to complete a seal coat, fog seal and striping on the runway and taxiway at the airport.

Total cost for that project was $290,000. Reitter said $225,000 of that came from CDOT and the FAA.

Going forward, however, Reitter said those CDOT grants are beginning to disappear, citing decreased fuel costs as the reason behind that.

“They’ve had a rough couple of years with the price of fuel decreasing,” VanDeel said. “Unfortunately, we won’t have the same support we’ve had from CDOT in the past because of the drop in fuel prices.”

Reitter said most of those CDOT grants are funded through fuel taxes, so the lower the cost of fuel, the less money is available to CDOT.

Other recent infrastructure improvements at the airport include a new sewer system, recently installed water lines, acquisition of the terminal hangar and the purchase of seven airport lots, which include four additional hangars, Reitter said.

She also noted that infrastructure improvements at the airport are important because the airport is an economic driver for the community and infrastructure upkeep is vital to keep people coming back to the facility.

“It’s important to our general aviation population,” Reitter said. “These folks that use the airport fly in from different places. They’re staying in our hotels, eating at our restaurants and shopping at our stores.”

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