State airport improvement grants totaling almost $20 .7 million were awarded to 44 Colorado airports, funded by aviation fuel tax collections under a program AOPA considers a model of progressive state support for aviation. Colorado reinvests 100 percent of aviation fuel tax receipts back into the state aviation system.
The state’s aeronautics commission also awarded a record $373,789 to a Denver aviation museum to fund education programs.
Many airports receiving project funding under Colorado’s Discretionary Aviation Grant Awards are small general aviation airports that do not typically receive federal airport aid, said David Ulane, AOPA Northwest/Mountain regional manager.
“In many cases, the state grants allow cash-strapped local municipalities to leverage federal funds that they would otherwise have to pass up for lack of local matching funds,” he said.
An example of a state award that will help an airport tackle needed projects is the $400,000 grant for 2013 to Cortez-Montezuma County Airport. The western Colorado airport will use the state funding and $139,260 from local appropriations as the matching share for receiving $1,920,000 from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program. Combined the grants will fund a nearly $2.5 million project to rehabilitate airport ramps and install taxiway shoulders, Ulane said.
“We have improved public-use airports all across the state by leveraging these grants with local and federal matching funds,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper in an announcement of the grants. “These airports are critical to the economic well-being of communities as energy, tourism and business travel to local destinations continues to grow. Developing and maintaining an efficient, safe transportation system is vital to Colorado’s economic growth.”
The aviation education grant will support expansion of statewide elementary aviation education programs of the Wings Over the Rockies Museum’s Wings Aerospace Science Program and Kid Space Program.
AOPA collaborates with organizations including the Colorado Pilots Association, Colorado Airport Operators Association, and the Colorado Division of Aeronautics to maintain support for the state’s airport grant program, Ulane said.
He urged members in Colorado to voice their support for the program with their state elected officials.