The Washington State Department of Transportation has told AOPA that it won’t enforce provisions of its grant program that require airports receiving state money for improvements to remain open for the useful life of those improvements.
The July 1 pronouncement came in response to a letter sent by AOPA asking the state to intervene on behalf of two public-use airports—Blaine Municipal and Vista Field—slated for closure by the communities that operate them. In its response, the state Department of Transportation agreed that suing an airport sponsor to enforce its grant obligations was one possible solution, but added that “as a matter of practice, we have not selected this remedy.”
Other options open to the state include withholding future funding, a moot point when an airport is closed, or demanding repayment of grant funds, which does nothing to keep an airport open.
“The state’s response to our concerns is disappointing at best,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “These communities run public airports that have accepted public money, and they should be required to live up to their obligations by keeping the airports open and operating as they committed to do.”
AOPA members can help by contacting the governor’s office and the Department of Transportation and urging them to exercise their authority to protect aviation in Washington. You can also comment on the latest phase of the state’s long-term aviation study.
Submit your comments by e-mail, fax (360/651-6319), or telephone (360/651-6300), and tell officials they need to preserve existing aviation resources even as they study future needs. AOPA will submit its own comments before the July 31 deadline.