Montana awarded more than $700,000 in grants and loans to airports across the state Jan. 22, reinvesting general aviation fuel taxes into the aviation system.
The Montana Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division and Montana Aeronautics Board awarded $325,890 in grants and $380,963 in loans to airports in the state. Funding for the airport projects comes from a $0.02-per-gallon tax on fuel for GA aircraft in Montana.
The grant and loan program has helped support and improve Montana’s public-use airports for 21 years. Eligible projects include pavement rehabilitation or maintenance, security or wildlife fencing, purchase of equipment, AWOS installation, master plans, or environmental projects. AOPA supports state aviation programs like this that invest revenue generated by aviation back into the aviation system.
“Montana’s a very large state, and so we’re very dependent on air travel, both commercial and general aviation,” said Aeronautics Division Administrator Debbie Alke, an AOPA member, explaining the importance of the funding. Montana has 120 public-use airports and a relatively small population, Alke said, and it’s difficult for many local entities to come up with the 10-percent match required to take advantage of a federal program that will pay 90 percent of certain airport improvement projects.
“This program helps them leverage those federal funds and protect their infrastructure,” she said.
The funds announced in January will be available at the start of the new fiscal year July 1.