June 12, 2006
AOPA President Phil Boyer and a crowd of city, state, and federal officials Tuesday celebrated the reopening of the primary runway at Venice Municipal Airport (VNC) in Florida. AOPA's N4GA was the very first aircraft to take off from the new runway.
Runway 13-31 had been closed since July for rehabilitation. Some 95 percent of the $4 million repair project was financed with funds from the federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP), while the state and city provided matching funds. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson helped obtain the AIP funds for the much-needed refurbishment.
"People sometimes forget how important general aviation airports are to the health of the community and our national transportation system," Boyer told the crowd. "I'm so pleased to see city, state, and federal officials working together for a GA airport."
That represents a big turnaround from previous years, when the FAA twice cut off grant money to the airport. Because of the lack of funds, the airport's main runway had deteriorated to poor condition.
Remarking on the restoration of funding, the new administrator for FAA's Southern Region, Douglas Murphy, told the crowd, "Were glad to do it... We at the FAA will continue to work with your for our collective success."
And Ben Walker of the Florida Department of Transportation called the airport a "shining example" of what a GA airport could and should be, and he said the state was preparing to invest another $2.5 million for more upgrades and the development of a business park. "Everybody is a supporter of this airport."
Venice Municipal Airport was built in the early 1940s as a military flight training facility. The GA facility sits on the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, less than two miles from the center of Venice.
The airport serves some 234 based aircraft and 165,000 annual takeoffs and landings. The self-sustaining airport contributes some $22 million in direct economic activity to the area.
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