Shiprock Airstrip receives $580K in FAA grants

The funds will be used for a runway rehabilitation design and an aeronautical survey

Noel Lyn Smith
The Shiprock Airstrip is seen on July 31, 2014, off of U.S. Highway 491 south of Shiprock. The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded the Navajo Nation two grants worth $580,000 to renovate the airstrip.

FARMINGTON — A pair of grants from the Federal Aviation Administration will help renovate and improve the airstrip in Shiprock.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signed documents last week to accept $580,000 in grants from the FAA, according to a press release from his office.

"This improvement to the Shiprock airport will support commercial developments being planned for the Shiprock area. This airstrip is in need of reconstruction," Begaye said in the release.

The airstrip is 4,840 feet long and is located six miles south of the community along U.S. Highway 491.

Michele Crank, a spokeswoman for Begaye's office, said today that the tribe has received the award, and the president signed the documents as part of the acceptance process.

Arlando Teller, acting deputy director for the Navajo Division of Transportation, confirmed the FAA awarded two grants to the tribe and said the funding for the airstrip has been a long time coming.

A grant for $180,000 will be used for a runway rehabilitation design, and the second grant for $400,000 will go toward an aeronautical survey.

The design aspect will take place during fiscal year 2017, and construction will start in fiscal year 2018, he said.

"This is the beginning of other potential improvements to the airport," Teller said.

Renovations include adding lighting to the runaway, which has been without lights due to vandalism and other factors, he said.

Also, both the runway and taxiway will receive new pavement, the president's office release states.

The Shiprock Airstrip is listed on the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, which identifies 3,345 public-use airports in the country that are eligible to receive grants under the federal agency's Airport Improvement Program.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.