MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allots $15 billion for airport-related projects as defined under the existing Airport Improvement Grant and Passenger Facility Charge criteria in fiscal year 2022, $2.89 billion is available to U.S. airports.
Several Upper Peninsula airports will receive funding from the federal government eligible to be used for runways, taxiways, safety and sustainability projects, as well as terminal, airport-transit connections and roadway projects.
Sawyer International Airport will receive $1,038,294. Duane DuRay, Director at Sawyer International Airport, says they haven’t picked an exact project for the funding yet.
“Our staff is looking at these particular projects and these dollars very closely and we’re trying to do a very strategic plan so that we are utilizing these dollars wisely,” said DuRay.
DuRay says they received around $18 million in funding through the CARES Act and they’ve been working on many projects to improve airport facilities.
“With that we were able to offset our operating budget and we have been able to utilize those dollars for direct operating costs offset labor costs, maintenance costs anything that’s related to the airport operations but we equally have some larger projects on the roster,” said DuRay.
Lisa Linna, Airport manager at Schuster Field in Ontonagon County says there are a few projects that they would like to tackle including adding a weather system and camera or doing work on their terminal building but their focus right now is working on tree obstructions.
“The FAA hasn’t really issued their official guidance yet but I’m guessing they’re probably going to want us or are going to suggest to us anyway that we use it for tree obstructions that we have going on right now that’s our big issue here,” said Linna
$110,000 was allocated to Schuster Field.
“This will be a great amount of money for us to help us with stuff that, you know maybe move our tree obstruction along quicker and hopefully we can get that done and move onto other projects like a weather station you know things like that,” said Linna.
Andrea Nummilien, manager of the Delta County Airport, says they have no immediate plans for spending the money but do have some things it may be used for down the road.
“We still are in the midst of the pandemic so I feel like it’s smart planning to hold off on any big spending at the moment just in case we need to use that grant money to supplement revenue streams,” said Michaeu.
Nummilien says that the airport administration will work with the county administrator and county controller to put a plan in place for using the funding.
“Some of the things like our airport hangars, we get federal funding yearly for the upkeep of the runway and the terminal building but the private hangars are not covered under that so this is a unique opportunity to have a chunk of money to throw at improvements for our hangars,” said Nummilien. “There’s a few other things too, there’s definitely equipment purchases that would be huge for operations for operations here at the airport.”
All airports across the United States are required to follow the same guidelines and regulations as established by the Federal Aviation Administration. Nummilien says for rural airports grants are needed to make required improvements.
“Even though Escanaba might be a fraction the size of Detroit we are required to comply with the exact same set of rules,” said Nummilien. “We follow the same set of federal guidelines that they do, so when we need a runway fixed or you know a ramp if cracks are forming in our runway or ramp we need to have crack seal projects, we have to do those things and the funding just isn’t there for our county so it’s really important that we have grants to help us make these improvements that are required for us.”
The following airports will be receiving these amounts from the allocations:
- Gogebic-Iron County Airport: $159,000
- Ontonagon County – Schuster Field: $110,000
- Houghton County Memorial Airport: $1,016,181
- Ford Airport (Iron Mountain): $1,014,409
- Delta County Airport: $1,012,361
- Sawyer International Airport: $1,038,294
- Schoolcraft County Airport: $110,000
- Luce County Airport: $110,000
- Mackinac County Airport: $110,000
- Chippewa County International Airport: $1,015,815
- Menominee Regional Airport: $159,000
- Mackinac Island Airport: $110,000
- Drummond Island Airport: $110,000