Unused airport grant set to expire Dec. 31

Unused airport grant set to expire Dec. 31

By NEIL YOUNG/The Daily News
Published: Thursday, December 26, 2013 2:50 AM MST
BULLHEAD CITY — The sun is setting on Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport’s $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help it secure scheduled airline service.

“Unless there is some miracle between now and the 31st of December, for all intents and purposes, I believe our grant will expire and we’re not going to achieve scheduled service this year,” said David Gaines, airport director.

Gaines declined to reveal which airline the Mohave County Airport Authority is negotiating with because “There is still interest… there are still discussions going on.”

The grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation has been extended a couple of times. Gaines said, at this point, airport officials intend to apply for a new grant in April. “So we’ll just start the process over again and I suppose it’s not a bad thing necessarily to renew commitments from everybody up and down the river that might benefit from scheduled service,” referring to local matching funds and in-kind donations, which helped secure the federal grant.

The new grant would be awarded in September, Gaines said.

Other airport issues and projects:

Funding for the control tower — “As soon as the president signs the two-year budget bill that was passed by the House and the Senate, then funding will be in place for contract towers for the next two years,” Gaines said.

Taxiway Rehabilitation Project — Began Dec. 9 with completion expected at the end of March. It’s a $3.3 million project with $1.3 million from the feds and $2 million from a state grant, with a $200,000 match from the airport authority.

Runway extension design — Funded by a federal grant for $963,600, with the state and airport authority chipping in $51,600 each. It’s been a project they’ve been working on for years, with just the environmental assessment taking seven years to complete, Gaines said. The design phase will be completed within a year. Work will begin late next year or early 2015. The total cost of the project to extend the runway from 7,500 to 8,500 feet is $13.6 million.

Wildlife Hazard Assessment — Should take 18 months to complete and is funded by a $150,000 federal grant with the state and airport each contributing 4.5 percent.

State Aviation Fund — Used for state grants or to match federal grants “is in good standing right now,” Gaines said. A few years ago, it was being swept by the state legislature due to budget deficits, requiring the airport to front the state portion of federal grants for at least a couple of years. The state has paid back the airport the amount of money it owed, Gaines said.

Gaines’ retirement March 15 —  He wants to ensure a smooth transition. The assistant director, Jeremy Keating, will assume the position of director. Gaines is now helping to hire an assistant director for Keating. “We’ve done a national search and have received probably 30 resumes,” Gaines said. The assistant will be in place by Feb. 1, he said.

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