Planning for Aspen airport gets $561,000 boost |

Planning for Aspen airport gets $561,000 boost

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” Aspen airport officials will soon receive a check for $560,878, U.S. Rep. John Salazar announced Wednesday.

The money, which is a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, is to be used on the airport master plan update. The plan will cost an estimated $1.33 million, said David Ulane, the airport’s assistant director of aviation.

Up to 95 percent of the total cost is eligible for FAA funding, he said. Aspen airport authorities are typically expected to come up with at least a 5 percent matching amount.

But because of federal funding procedures, the FAA is unable to say right now whether it can contribute more money to the master plan update, Ulane said.

Airport director James Elwood was in Washington, D.C., last week to testify before Congress in his role as head of the American Association of Airport Executives. He urged a congressional committee to pass a new FAA funding bill, which, local officials hope, would include additional funding for the master plan update.

According to a spokesman for Salazar’s office, the FAA grant is not related to the Obama administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package. It is part of a grants program that Aspen airport officials applied for long before the stimulus package became an issue, said Salazar spokesman Eric Wortman

The master plan update and the grant are intended “to identify future airport development needs and to meet current planning requirements,” according to a statement issued by Salazar, who represents Aspen and much of the Western Slope.

“I know this funding will help the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport plan for the future and enhance its ability to provide safe and efficient air service for residents and pilots in and around Pitkin County,” the statement says. “I am proud to have supported these efforts, and I will continue to work to provide necessary funding for projects that will improve our infrastructure and strengthen our economy.”

The grant will provide funding for the first phase of updating the airport master plan’s inventory of current facilities, Ulane said, including a listing of such recent projects as a runway overlay, a new taxi way, and a new maintenance building, known as the Airport Operations Center.

In addition to updating the inventory, the master plan process is meant to identify future airport development needs, such as improvements to the airport’s hangars, the passenger terminal and other facilities.

Ulane said the goal is to get the update finished by next summer, when officials can turn to the next round of airport improvement projects.

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