Major improvements are in the works for the Abilene Regional Airport, which will receive a federal grant totaling more than $6 million.
The Federal Aviation Administration will grant about $6.5 million through two programs to the local airport in plan announced Sept. 13 byÂ U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.
“These funds will be used to address needed maintenance and safety improvements at Abilene Regional Airport,” Cornyn said last week.
The money for facility upgrades is arriving at a needed time for Don Green, City of Abilene director of aviation, who said the airport normally receives similar grants in the spring.
“We have two construction projects ready to go,” he said.
Green said the regional airport plans to repair two taxiways, the roads between the runways and the ramps where planes park. He said “ruts” were beginning to develop in the pavement.
“They were not designed to carry the weight of aircrafts we’re using.”
Business is up about 10 percent this year according to Green. Much of the influx in flights he credits to the regional command center for Texas Forest Service, which has flown in more firefighters to help control wildfires plaguing the surrounding areas.
The money for the grants comes from federal taxes on flight tickets. These funds are actually a combination of two types of grants established by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The first, an entitlement grant, was about $1.1 million and is based on the number of passengers flown out of Abilene. The $5.4 million aircraft fuel tax is a discretionary grant based on projects ranked by the FAA to maintain the Natural Airspace System.
“In addition, quality transportation services are important for boosting local economic growth,”Â CornynÂ said.
Green expects for the funding to result in construction job openings for people in the area. He has also already started to plan alternate routes so that customers will not need to worry about Â lengthy flight delays.