Federal grant funding airport upgrades

The Prineville Airport was one of several airports in Oregon to receive federal grant funding from the Department of Transportation.

The local aviation facility received $1.31 million out of $9.11 million total to install airfield guidance signs and runway vertical/visual guidance system.

“The end of the runway closest to the highway is being shortened up a little bit for protection from the highway and access road,” said Airport Manager Kelly Coffelt. “During that process, we are getting new runway lights, and a visual guidance system that helps you land will be replaced.”

Coffelt said that the project is sizeable in dollar amount and will feature a considerable amount of construction, but he characterized it as more of an adjustment than an expansion.

Oregon’s two U.S. senators (Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley) took time to stress the importance of the local grant as well as others awarded throughout the state.

“Oregonians living and working in rural communities throughout our state know full well that small airports are essential centerpieces to build their economy and quality-of-life,” said Wyden. “These federal investments in local infrastructure are always important, and especially now when rural Oregon is working overtime to deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Sen. Merkley added that one of the most important things lawmakers can do right now to help our communities weather the coronavirus crisis is to focus on building a strong foundation for our future.

“The critical upgrades funded by these grants are going to enhance the safety and efficiency of our airports, keep our communities and businesses connected, and help us build that foundation,” he said.

Though the local grant has been awarded and announced, Coffelt said it is not yet executed. He expects that occur within the next 45 to 60 days. Also, funding for an aircraft parking expansion north of the runway will be announced later this year. Construction for both projects will likely begin next spring.