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Friday
August 23rd, 2019

ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

There are many projects going on at the Liberal Municipal Airport and recently, the airport staff received some grant funds to help with a project that has been in the works for a little while. 

Forty-one projects totaling $5 million were granted at the end of April through the Kansas Airport Improvement Program (KAIP) funding for planning, constructing or rehabilitating public use general aviation airports. The Liberal Municipal Airport received $248,500 through this program. 

“We put in for the grant back in October through KAIP, which is through KDOT and we’d put in for $275,000 to fix the Crossman runway, which is 0422,” Airport Operations Chief Brian Fornwalt said. “That will be repainted. We heard we’d gotten the grant April 30 and then I talked to a rep from KDOT because we’d heard we’d gotten it, but the official word hadn’t yet come from KDOT. We’re still waiting on the paperwork for everything so we can go before the commission so they can approve the grant and everything on their end. And their fiscal year runs differently than ours, so we won’t really be able to do anything with this project until after July 1, but we know that will be here really quickly.”

Fornwalt added staff was happy to receive the word the airport had been awarded the grant money. 

“We were really excited, it’s nice to received funding like this,” Fornwalt said. “And we know the work will be done right this time because we know what we’re looking for. So when we go out for bids, we’ll know what to expect from everyone as the bids and stuff come in.”

The KAIP program requires airport sponsors to share in project costs by paying a portion of the total project, according to an April 30 press release, and the KDOT Division of Aviation, which manages the program, considered 119 project applications this year with a combined total value of more than $29 million. The release also noted the aviation industry represents a $20.6 billion economic impact and employs more than 92,000 Kansans. In addition, 94 percent of the state’s population is within 30 minutes of air ambulance operations, the release noted. 

“KAIP has not only funded key improvements at local airports, it has helped create a statewide aviation network that enhances both the health and economic wellbeing of the entire state,” Bob Brock, KDOT Director of Aviation noted in that release.

Fornwalt added discussion of this project has been ongoing for about a year. 

“We knew the markings on that runway were getting to be pretty bad and faded, and we know they’re worse at this point because of everything that came up this past winter, so we’ve got to get it all fixed,” Fornwalt said. “So it’s been about a year we’ve been talking about all of that and then we heard KDOT had this grant available and we decided to go ahead and apply for it.”

Fornwalt said he is tentatively expecting the work to begin in either August or September and added staff will work on getting bids and designs together starting in June. 

“It’s going to be really nice getting all of that done out there,” Fornwalt said. “It was going to take us quite a bit of money and time and other resources, so having this grant money will help us out a lot. We’ve got some other places that need repainted so we can keep up with the FAA regulations, so having this money will help us save some resources so we can focus on some of the other smaller projects we need to take care of out here.”

Fornwalt added there will be several benefits from the work that will be completed. 

“I foresee that particular runway being used a lot more since the pilots will actually be able to see those guidelines, especially at night,” Fornwalt said. “Especially with around here where the wind’s everywhere and can change on a dime, that will be really helpful. A lot of the general aviation pilots use that runway depending on wind direction, so it will help them out a lot being able to see those markings properly and seeing where they’re going. We’ve still got to go before the commission and we’re still waiting to get all the paperwork in order so we can get it approved by them. It’s a project that’s been some time coming and it’ll be nice when it’s all completed.”

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