Officials express concern about airport’s future

Funding fight derails runway project at Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport

Larry Mack, operations manager at the Fort Collins/Loveland Municipal Airport, looks at cracks in the main runway Monday. The airport will not receive FAA funding to resurface the runway and will need to look for other sources for the $6.4 million for the project. V. Richard Haro/The Coloradoan

Larry Mack, operations manager at the Fort Collins/Loveland Municipal Airport, looks at cracks in the main runway Monday. The airport will not receive FAA funding to resurface the runway and will need to look for other sources for the $6.4 million for the project. V. Richard Haro/The Coloradoan

Written by Kevin Duggan KevinDuggan@coloradoan.com

Plans to repave the runway at Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport have been scratched for a second construction season because of a congressional hang up with funding the Federal Aviation Administration.

If the same thing happens next year, the airport might have to close rather than continue dipping into reserves funds to patch a runway that needs to be replaced, said Jason Licon, the airport director.
“It’s a possibility,” Licon said. “Our runway is in pretty bad condition, and we have to do something about it.”
The airport was expecting to receive a grant from the FAA to cover most of the $7 million project. A contractor was selected and arrangements made to close the airport from Aug. 15 to Sept. 1 to accommodate the repaving.
But Congress, which has been tied up dealing with the federal debt-limit issue, did not pass legislation in late July that would have continued funding for FAA operations and its grant programs. About 4,000 FAA employees have been furloughed and airport construction projects across the country have ground to a halt.

Federal officials have said they want to get the FAA funding issue settled as soon as possible, but it’s already too late for the Fort Collins-Loveland Airport project. The grant money might still come through this fiscal year, Licon said, but the work will be put off to next construction season.
“Timing is everything with this project,” he said. “We had a window of opportunity, and it has closed. We were told up to two days before the deadline the grant was coming, and then the bottom fell through.
“It was kind of a slap in the face. It’s unfortunate because all of our stakeholders had been notified and had planned accordingly.”
The airport’s lone commercial carrier, Allegiant Air, changed its scheduling so it would not fly out of Fort Collins-Loveland during the expected closure.
Although the airport will remain open after Aug. 15, Allegiant will not use it because there’s not enough time for the airline to “sell tickets and fill the planes” for that timeframe, said Jordan McGee, company spokesperson.

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