Ohio has announced a significant expansion of its fiscal year 2016 airport grant program, the result of funds being added to aviation programs during negotiations over the new state budget.
AOPA reported on July 7 that Ohio’s 2016-2017 state budget would include an additional $6 million for airports and infrastructure. Provisions that would have allowed other interests to tap the funds for nonaviation programs were scrapped.
With the new funding available, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation on July 27 notified airport sponsors that the deadline to apply for fiscal year 2016 grants has been extended to Sept. 1. The prior deadline was May 1.
AOPA welcomed officials' timely response to the funding increase.
"AOPA and the Ohio Aviation Association worked to secure this additional funding and prevent it from being diverted to unrelated infrastructure projects," said Bryan Budds, AOPA Great Lakes regional manager.
The expanded program will give priority to projects for obstruction removal and pavement rehabilitation. It will also jumpstart previously unfunded runway and taxiway marking and lighting rehabilitation at some airports.
The state’s share of funding for eligible programs will increase from 90 percent to 95 percent, according to a July 27 letter to airport operators from state Aviation Administrator James Bryant.
Also, starting on Oct. 1, the grant program will offer five-percent state matches—equal to the local share—of FAA grants that cover 90 percent of project costs at general aviation airports.
According to a 2014 Ohio Airports Focus Study, maintaining pavement at general aviation airports in Ohio will cost an estimated $457.2 million over the next 20 years. AOPA served on the advisory committee for the report.
"AOPA members across Ohio are pleased to see the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation act so quickly to get these additional funds out to community airports where needs have been growing over the past several years," Budds said, adding, "AOPA will continue working with the Ohio Department of Transportation, the legislature, and the governor’s office to grow Ohio’s aviation sector and its economic contribution to the state."