Fifteen airports across Minnesota have received nearly $28 million in grants from the federal government for safety and infrastructure improvements.
The projects getting funding range from runway improvements to the purchase of firefighting equipment in the far northern stretches of the state.
All told, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded $1.2 billion in grants nationwide. The funds “will improve our nation’s airport infrastructure, enhance safety, and strengthen growth in local communities, which is especially important as the economy recovers from COVID-19,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in a statement Tuesday.
Of the Minnesota recipients, Rochester International Airport received the biggest grant: $9.2 million to help pay for $79 million in runway safety improvements.
“We are extremely grateful for this federal grant to support critical airport infrastructure projects,” said John Reed, the airport’s executive director, in a news release. Work on the runway project will begin next spring, he added.
Airport officials said the multiyear improvement project will replace an aging runway and improve airfield pavement and equipment. Reed noted that an $11.4 million bonding request to help with the project is still pending at the Legislature.
The Rochester airport offers daily service to Denver, Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago on Delta, American and United airlines.
A 2019 study by the Minnesota Department of Transportation found that commercial and general aviation airports in greater Minnesota generate about $1.6 billion in economic activity annually. That includes supporting some 13,147 employees with a $570 million yearly payroll.
Other FAA grants in Minnesota include:
• $4.3 million to Mankato Regional Airport for taxiway and runway construction and signs.
• $4.2 million to Grand Rapids/Itasca County Airport to rehabilitate a runway.
• $2.5 million to Morris Municipal Airport-Charlie Schmidt Field for an environmental assessment and runway extension.
• $1.2 million to Duluth International Airport for snow removal equipment, apron expansion and sealing airport surfaces.
• $1.2 million to Ely Municipal Airport to rehabilitate a taxiway.
• $1.1 million to the state to update an airport study.
• $826,686 to Rushford Municipal-Robert W. Bunke Field to rebuild airport lighting and to seal apron pavement, runway and taxiway surfaces.
• $793,601 to Thief River Falls Regional Airport for aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment.
• $506,827 to Dodge Center Airport to rebuild an aircraft taxi lane.
• $506,361 to Tower Municipal Airport to build a snow removal equipment building.
• $418,565 to New Ulm Municipal Airport to rebuild a taxiway.
• $400,000 to Jackson Municipal Airport to overhaul an aircraft taxi lane.
• $258,927 to Austin Municipal Airport to buy easements for approaches and to rebuild perimeter fencing.
• $226,251 to Le Sueur Municipal Airport to purchase land.
• $59,350 to Rush City Regional Airport to seal airport surface joints.