In the News
Moran offers support for Concordia's IAP grant application
Friday, December 28
Offering his support for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Grant application submitted by the city of Concordia, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran visited Blosser Municipal Airport on Thursday to gather information on the proposed project.
The city, in October 2018, submitted the grant application to the FAA seeking funds to construct a new runway east of the existing runway and an estimated cost of $6.5 million.
There is no local match necessary for the grant.
The United State Congress authorized an additional $1 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (IAP).
“Pleasing to me is that it is a priority program for rural communities. That doesn’t happen very often in Washington D.C.” Moran (R-Kansas) said.
About $200 million has been awarded for 37 projects, and there is a total of $11 billion in applications.
There are currently eight applications in Kansas pending, and Moran is expecting the decision to be made on the Concordia application in the first half of 2020.
“I want to be in position to be helpful to this community as this grant application makes its way across the desks of the people at the FAA,” Moran said.
Steve Richard, who serves on the Airport Advisory Board, said that the current runway, which is 3,600 feet long, was constructed in 1984.
Richard said that the Airport Master Plan was updated in 2013. An environmental impact study for a longer runway was done and land was acquired.
The Master Plan, which included a 4,800 foot runway, was signed off on by the FAA.
“When this program came down for the billion dollars we all had a smile on our faces, and said we have a shovel ready project, lets do it,” Richard said.
When approached on the project, the FAA determined a longer runway wasn’t need.
Moran asked Brad Waller, branch manager for Bensch in Manhattan, why if the longer runway was in the Master Plan, the FAA now says it is not needed.
“Really its a change over in personnel,” Waller said, “It was approved in 2018 as a 4,800-foot runway.
Waller said that one of the drivers for the longer runway in 2013 was the proposed construction of a new hospital located near the airport.
“That hospital was going to have direct runway access and direct taxiing access for Life Flight, for physicians to come in and out of the hospital on a weekly, monthly basis,” Waller said.
A bond election to fund the construction of the new hospital did not pass.
“When that didn’t pass then we went back to the drawing board and kind of let that go, because it was the catalyst for the funding,” Waller said.
Moran asked if the FAA in Kansas City supports the plan for the new runway, but just not lengthened.
“They support it as an airport reconstruction project,” Waller said, “The question is going to be, hopefully if it gets funded, what is that ultimate length is going to be.”
Waller also said that the width of the runway is also a consideration. The current runway is 60-feet wide, and the new runway would be 75-feet wide.
“The length will be what the length is. We are going to fight for as long as we can, but we really want to get that 75-foot width,” Waller said.
JP Metzler of RMA Engineering, Inc., which has an office located on the airport, said that his company has three planes and would like to go to (Beechcraft) King Air.
“The problem is we can’t go to those King Airs until we get a longer strip, for safety issues,” Metzler said.
CloudCorp executive director Ashley Hutchinson told Moran that there were letters signed by people who said they would land bigger aircraft at the airport if they had the opportunity to.
“Since RMA has come in we have had a few businesses interested in expanding out here. So that is the next step for us to really grow,” Hutchinson said.
Waller said that by constructing the new runway to the east of the existing one, it opens up room for development.
“Right now there is not really room for development or expansion of a business, or hangers or what have you. Once you move that, and you get your safety zones cleared up, it is going to open up a lot of space for businesses and development,” Waller said.
Moran said that what was being highlighted to him was the necessity for a longer runway, or a wider runway.
“If you could load me up on the information you have about if you build it what will come, I am happy to make that case to folks in Kansas City,” Moran said.
Moran said that there has to be some way that the FAA understand that you can’t just look at what it is today.
“Why are we expanding an airport? Because of growth that will occur,” Moran said, “That is common sense. There can’t be a policy that says it just has to be here before you can decide if we can expand your airport.”
Click here to read more.