Auburn Municipal Airport, which began operations in 1969, is one of the busiest for its size in the region. REPORTER FILE PHOTO

Auburn Municipal Airport, which began operations in 1969, is one of the busiest for its size in the region. REPORTER FILE PHOTO

Runway extension to take wing

Sen. Cantwell announces FAA will provide $2.8 million for major project at Auburn Municipal Airport

The Auburn Municipal Airport is about to receive $2,858,343 from the Federal Aviation Administration for its long-in-the-planning runway extension project.

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, announced the award Thursday.

The total award is composed of a $2.7 million grant from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program for which the city applied Aug. 6, plus $150,000 from AIP’s mandatory funding commitments, which the airport receives every year to apply to whatever projects it has identified.

The project will extend the airport’s total runway length from 3,400 to 3,841 lineal feet to increase capacity, improve safety, and support stormwater management improvements. The grant itself will cover 90 percent of the construction cost.

Work begins next spring.

“The way FAA funding works is we bid the product and then we request grant funds,” Ingrid Gaub, public works director for the city of Auburn, said Thursday. “Our next step is to award the contract in October. The contract is written to begin pavement work next spring so we will not tear up the runway in the wet months and have it closed longer than necessary.”

”The airport will continue to be open during construction, with restricted times of closure for some of the work to be completed, mostly at night. We are anticipating that the project would be completed in the fall of 2020,” Gaub said.

The Washington State Department of Transportation last year declined the city’s application for a grant award that would have covered 5 percent of the total project cost, but it invited the city to reapply in the next funding cycle. If the city is again unsuccessful in its application to WSDOT, Gaub said, its own airport fund will kick in 5 percent.

“This grant has been a labor of love for our City staff for many years,” said Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus. “I am immensely grateful for their diligent work in securing this important funding for Auburn and for the opportunity it will provide for our airport to better serve our growing community.”

Cantwell secured full funding for the AIP in last year’s landmark, five-year reauthorization of the FAA. From 2013-2018, Washington state airports received more than $478 million in grants from the program.

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