Merkley, Wyden Announce Major Grants for Rural Airports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced nearly $13 million in grants to support rural airport improvements in North Bend and John Day.

In North Bend, $6.6 million will help the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport to construct an aircraft rescue and firefighting building. In John Day, $6.3 million will allow the Grant County Regional Airport to improve runway safety.

“Small airports connect rural Oregon to economic opportunity, wildfire fighting resources, and more,” Merkley said. “I’ve seen firsthand the updates our small airports need to continue to serve rural communities, and I will continue to use my seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to fight for these much-needed improvement grants for our airports.”

“A key piece to quality of life throughout rural Oregon is a dependable airport that can link smaller communities to job-creating opportunities and provide needed protections from wildfires,” Wyden said. “These resources for Coos and Grant counties help to fill those needs and I am glad to have worked with Senator Merkley to secure support for these two airports.”

The Airport Improvement Supplemental Appropriation grants support hard construction, as well as planning, design and administration costs.

“The Coos County Airport District is very excited about the award of this important grant to fund a new Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Facility,” said Theresa Cook, executive director of the Coos County Airport District. “We just recently had to discontinue use of our 75-year-old ARFF building due to the mold and draftiness of the facility that left our fire fighters and expensive ARFF vehicles outdoors at times and in transient hangar facilities. This grant will allow us to build new facilities to protect our vehicles and support our fire fighters. Many, many thanks and much appreciation to Senators Merkley and Wyden for their continued support of our community.”

“Receiving the supplemental funding from the federal government for the runway safety area will significantly improve safety for all users of our airport,” said Haley Walker, airport manager at Grant County Regional Airport. “The financial strain of securing match funding for large scale safety projects and growth at our airport is tremendous, so this funding will allow us to continue improving our airport without this burden. The time and effort put into this funding application was a high priority, and we are extremely thankful for this funding  program and being identified as a recipient of these federal dollars.”