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Deseret News
The Delta Municipal Airport in Millard County is pictured in a Google Earth screenshot. The facility received a $4.16 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program to upgrade a runway and two taxiways.

SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utah airfields will get millions in federal funds to upgrade and improve safety at their facilities.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced the award of $477 million in airport infrastructure grants, including $4.3 million that will go toward improvements at two Utah facilities. In all, $3.18 billion in funding will be allocated for the Airport Improvement Program to airports across the United States, a news release stated.

The recipients in Utah include Delta Municipal Airport, which was awarded $4.16 million to repair the lighting on a taxiway and runway, as well as the rebuilding of a runway and a taxiway.

Originally built in the 1940s, the World War II-era facility has since in need of upgrades for years to its main runway and two adjoining taxiways, explained project engineer Dana Hartshorn. One of the main issues will be flattening out the grade to allow a complete line of sight from either end of the runway, in addition to reconfiguring the taxiways to allow smoother access to the runway from either end, he said.

"What this project does is take out that runway that created that line of sight issue and restores us back to the original length, and in doing so, we will raise that south elevation," he said. "Basically, we're going to take the hump out of just south of the middle and push it south and fill so that we can level out the runway as best we can."

He said the fix will regain 500 feet of the runway that had been lost for more than a decade, which will improve conditions for people flying to and from the airport. He said the project is set to begin next week and scheduled for completion in approximately three months.

The airport primarily serves general aviation patrons — private aircraft, along with aviation education and pilot training, he said.

"It's a nice place for flight training and it's a nice place to fly in and out of," Hartshorn said.

Also, a $150,936 grant was made to Spanish Fork Municipal Airport to repair a taxiway, build a taxiway and improve drainage at the facility.

"It's the refurbishment of our taxiway Alpha and for the construction of a small portion of taxiway Bravo," explained Spanish Fork Municipal Airport manager Cris Child. "The taxiway is the road you drive out on to get to the runway."

"(The improvements are) going to improve safety along the main runway," he added. The work to repair the taxiways and drainage will begin in late August and is expected to take about three months to complete, he said.

Child said each airport in the state receives federal funding annually for improvements and maintenance, though amounts vary from year to year. While this year focused on taxiways, next year's maintenance will likely include asphalt paving and repair, he added.

Spanish Fork airport serves mostly general aviation, as well as pilot education and training, he said.

In total, the program issued 276 grants to 264 airports across 44 states, the Pacific Islands, and the District of Columbia, the release stated. The project upgrades will include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, along with construction of firefighting facilities and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons and terminals.

The FAA said the building and facilities supported by the monies are meant to improve airport safety and emergency response capabilities while increasing capacity. The funding could also bolster economic growth and development within each of the designated airport’s service region.

The agency stated that airport infrastructure across the U.S.'s 3,332 airports and 5,000 paved runways strengthens the nation's economic competitiveness and enhances the quality of life for nearby communities. The agency’s most recent economic analysis showed civil aviation nationwide accounting for $1.6 trillion in overall economic activity while supporting almost 11 million jobs.

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The FAA noted that airports are eligible to receive designated amounts of improvement dollars every year based on activity levels and need. If capital project demands surpass the amount of available entitlement funds, the agency could supplement their allotment by adding discretionary funding, the release stated.

Officials said for the Beehive State, the monies will help local airports maintain sound operating environments.

“This significant investment in airport improvements in Utah will fund construction and rehabilitation projects that will help maintain high levels of safety in U.S. aviation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.