Glacier Park International Airport Receives $2M in Federal Grants

Funds will go towards upgrading the runway and structural planning

By Madeleine Lamon
Glacier Park International Airport. Beacon file photo

The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded Glacier Park International Airport two grants totaling $2.07 million to improve the runway as well as the facility’s master plan.

The larger grant, amounting to $1,539,844, will be allocated to rehabilitate the airport’s runway and apron — the area in which planes are parked, unloaded or refueled. GPIA Director Rob Ratkowski explained that the airport will complete a “preventative pavement maintenance project” by shooting a seal coat to rejuvenate the asphalt of the runway. It will also restripe the runway, a project that is perennially necessary due to large amounts of snow removal in the winter, and will rehabilitate a portion of the airplane parking area. He predicted that both construction projects would be completed by October.

The smaller grant of $534,155 will reimburse the airport for money spent on changes to the facility’s master plan. Ratkowski said administrators are examining the various facets of the airport’s planning with a focus on terminal planning to see how the administration can better accommodate the swelling numbers of passengers passing through the airport.

These funds make up a small portion of the $770.8 million doled out by the FAA this year in infrastructure grants to airports across the nation, according to a FAA press release. They come as a part of the third wave of funding in 2018, which provides 569 grants to 522 airports.

Ratkowski noted that the FAA allocates the entitlement funding, which is sourced from ticket and aviation fuel taxes, using a formula with which, most simply put, “the more passengers you have the more grants you get.” He said that the total entitlement funding for the airport typically remains stable from year to year. According to FAA data, Glacier Park Airport received a total of $2,009,649 in funding from the department in 2017.

In instances when airports need additional money for special projects, they can apply for discretionary funds.

The infrastructure grants are a part of the department’s Airport Improvement Program, which will provide $3.18 billion in total funding to U.S. airports this year.

“These critical investments will support upgrading and modernizing airports across the country, which will enhance safety, improve the travel experience and strengthen local economies,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.

Of those grants, 27 were awarded within Montana, totaling upwards of $24 million federal funds to recipients across the state. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is the beneficiary of the largest grant in the state with $3,449,219 appropriated for miscellaneous upgrades including rehabilitating the runway and extending the taxiway.

Sens. Steve Daines, a Republican, and Jon Tester, a Democrat, released statements celebrating the allotted funds for airports throughout the state.

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