Area airports receive grants

The Elkins-Randolph County Airport Authority and the Buckhannon-Upshur Airport Authority will receive $450,000 in Federal Aviation Administration funding for needed infrastructure improvements.

Elkins-Randolph Airport will get the lion’s share of local funding at $300,000 and the Upshur County Regional Airport will receive $150,000.

“Our local airports are critical to West Virginia’s economy now and in the future,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “They open our state to business opportunities and tourism, and provide a safe and convenient way for West Virginians to travel. This grant funding will make sure the state’s airports remain safe and running so they can continue to facilitate ongoing air service throughout our state.”

The federal funding is part of more than $6 million total in grants for Barbour, Berkeley, Braxton, Greenbrier, Harrison, Marion, Mercer, Monongalia, Nicholas, Raleigh, Randolph, Upshur and Wood counties.

At the Elkins-Randolph Airport the money will go to repaving, repositioning of access taxiways and repositioning of drainage. Taxiways are paved roads connecting runways with ramps, hangars, and terminals.

“One of the taxiways adjacent to the hangars has been falling apart for several years,” said Nils Heinke, president of the Elkins-Randolph County Airport Authority. “It’s quite urgent. Loose asphalt is lying on top and gravel is getting blown up into airplane propellers.”

The FAA grant will be used to repave the asphalt which has to be taken up and resurfaced, according to Heinke.

“It will have a new base and be compacted in a new, thick layer,” Heinke said. “All of the taxiways need to be done. The grant is to do a partial repair of two taxiways, hangar access roads and drainage.”

The work is 90 percent financed by the FAA, and the remaining 10 percent local share is funded by the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission. Work is set to begin on Sept. 29 and the airport will remain in operation during the construction.

Meanwhile, the $150,000 grant to the Buckhannon-Upshur Airport Authority will be spent on construction of a hangar at the Upshur County Regional Airport.

“Civil aviation contributes enormously to our nation’s economy and I will continue to work with our regional airport authorities to take advantage of the growth that is fueled by a strong transportation network,” said Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).