Airport dodges cost increase

Airport dodges cost increase

By DIANE WETZEL
dwetzel@nptelegraph.com | Posted: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 12:00 am

Timing is everything. News that the Federal Aviation Administration legislation passed last month in Congress would double the amount of money local airports must pay toward projects won’t hurt the North Platte Regional Airport in the short-term.
Congress passed the FAA long-term funding bill in February, the first since 2007 after 23 extensions.

“Congress had been bickering about it, and were unable to get it passed until now,” said North Platte Airport General Manager Mike Sharkey.
Included in the funding in the FAA bill are the Airport Improvement Program grants that allow airports to expand and improve existing infrastructure.
Airports have been required to pay 5 percent of the cost of improvements, with the federal government picking up 95 percent of the tab. Now they are responsible for 10 percent.

“In the past two years, our airport had completed two major projects with a combined price tag of $5.2 million,” Sharkey said. “We were able to do those projects for 5 percent. If we had waited, the difference in the cost would have been between $350,000 and $360,000.”
The North Platte Airport built a parallel runway and raised one runway out of the water table, Sharkey said.
“Right now we’ve got our infrastructure where we want it,” he said. “It’s been a 10-year process, but we are where we are functional and in good shape. We are lucky we did those large projects when we did.”

North Platte is scheduled to do smaller improvement projects during the next five years, nothing that would burden the airport with the change in funding.

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