Three airports in region receive financial boost
WORTHINGTON --Municipal airports in Pipestone, Windom and Worthington are among 14 across Greater Minnesota that have been awarded grant dollars through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration to make much-needed i...
WORTHINGTON --Municipal airports in Pipestone, Windom and Worthington are among 14 across Greater Minnesota that have been awarded grant dollars through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration to make much-needed improvements.
The Pipestone Municipal Airport will get $199,500 to purchase a large snowblower for the runway, as well as replace a fuel tank for low-lead fuel at the airport.
"We've never had a snowblower before," said Rob Dykstra, airport manager. In the past, the runway was cleared with a plow, which always left windrows behind that would fill in. "Now, we will blow the snow banks away when we have a deep snow."
In Windom, the majority of the $137,750 grant will also be used to manage snow removal. The remainder will help fund an environmental assessment, which is necessary for the city to move forward with proposed plans for a runway expansion.
Brian Underwood, airport manager, said the airport will purchase a snowplow and dump truck to keep the runway clear during the winter.
"In the past, we've always used the City of Windom equipment, and the state and federal government have reimbursed them for the use of equipment," Underwood said.
The new plow and dump truck, which will be purchased sometime this summer, will be stored at the airport.
As for the environmental assessment, Underwood said plans are to have the paperwork completed by the end of the summer.
"We're working to rebuild our runway in the next two to three years, and we would like to get (a runway) extension," he said. The existing airport is 3,600 feet, and Underwood said the hope is to extend it another 1,400 feet to allow the local airport to handle larger planes.
"Our runway can only handle the twin-engine prop airplane," Underwood said. "It would be nice to be able to handle the jets and company aircraft."
If the environmental assessment is approved, Underwood anticipates the airport would receive further funding from the FAA to complete the expansion project. In the event the project is denied, he said it would move forward with rebuilding the runway.
"The existing runway was constructed in 1964, and it's had nothing done with it except for overlays," he said. "It's getting to the point now where it needs to be rebuilt."
In Worthington, the grant funding is also earmarked for runway improvements, specifically the complete reconstruction of Runway 17-35, said Duane Haffield, Worthington City Engineer.
"This grant will be for the design only," Haffield said. "The work is subject to when we will receive larger grants (anticipated) for 2009 and 2010 construction, but that's dependent upon the availability of federal funding."
Without federal funding, many of the proposed airport projects wouldn't be feasible.
"It's grant dollars and federal funding that keeps our airport and all the small airports open," Underwood said. "It's very important."