Four Corners Regional Airport awarded $7.5 million by feds for new taxiway
Project will better position airport for return of passenger jet service
- The $7.5 million grant will cover 93.7% of the cost of the project.
- The city and state governments will split the remaining costs.
- The taxiway that will be replaced runs parallel to and serves the runway that runs along a northeast-to-southwest trajectory.
FARMINGTON — A project to replace one of the taxiways at Four Corners Regional Airport could get underway by July after the facility was awarded $7.5 million in federal funding to help pay for the work.
Airport manager Mike Lewis said the federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will cover 93.7% of the cost of the project, with the city and state governments splitting the remainder.
Lewis said the taxiway that will be replaced runs parallel to and serves the runway that runs along a northeast-to-southwest trajectory. He said the existing taxiway will be removed down to the roadbed, then relocated several feet south, providing for a wider margin between it and the runway.
The change is required by the Federal Aviation Administration before the Four Corners Regional Airport has its status upgraded to a category for handling larger aircraft, Lewis said. The airport has been operating under an exception to that requirement for a few years, he said, but the construction of the new taxiway will eliminate the need for that exception.
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"We've done about five years and $20 million of work at the airport overhauling runways and upgrading lighting," Lewis said, referring to the effort to improve the facility's status as part of an effort to attract passenger jet service.
Four Corners Regional Airport has been without that service since 2017.
The grant was announced in a news release issued jointly June 1 by the offices of U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan and U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, all of New Mexico.
"Local airports like Four Corners Regional are key economic drivers for our state," Heinrich stated in the release. "This grant will make sure Four Corners Regional is able to best serve New Mexicans, while maintaining the highest levels of safety and efficiency."
Lujan said the grant will ensure safer flights for passengers, and he touted the economic impact of the award.
"New Mexico's local airports are critical in supporting our state's economy and connecting communities," he stated in the release.
Leger Fernandez described the Four Corners Regional Airport as a key transportation hub for the business, tourism and family travel sectors.
"This funding will help with the demands of this airport and improve the infrastructure to help our economy grow for decades to come," she stated in the release.
Lewis said once he has received the grant offer from the federal government, the City Council will need to formally accept it. The project already has been put out to bid, and a contract has been awarded to Four Corners Materials of Farmington to perform the work.
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He anticipates work could begin within 30 days. The project has a 150-day schedule. The nature of some of the work requires warm, dry weather, Lewis said, so the project was scheduled for summer to avoid cold, damp conditions.
"You can't be doing that in December or January," he said.
The completion of the project will not result in the immediate restoration of passenger jet service to the airport, Lewis said, although he said it will place the facility in a better position to be prepared for that.
"The airfield has been capable of handling regular jets for a couple of years," he said. "The issue is if the airlines find it agreeable to do so."
Lewis said the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted operations for so many airlines, especially in terms of maintaining adequate staffing, that conditions are not good for trying to recruit a new airline to Farmington.
"We can't even talk to them about starting this kind of service at this time," he said, although he hopes conditions will become more favorable soon.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.