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Telluride Airport Gets $4 Million For Improvements

A $4 million Federal Aviation Administration grant has been awarded to the Telluride Regional Airport for erosion control improvements and other infrastructure work.

The grant is part of the FAA Reauthorization Bill, which was approved Feb 6. The bill authorized more than $3 billion per year to be used for airport improvements nationwide, through a national program called the Airport Improvement Plan. The funds at the Telluride airport will be spent in the coming years on a variety of projects aimed at improving its infrastructure.

“The passage of the FAA reauthorization bill will help with our long term planning by providing financial funding for multi-year projects,” Rich Nutall, manager of Telluride Regional Airport, said in a release. “This will enable us to serve our customers better. We still need to complete some finishing touches on our runway project. We also hope to replace our taxiway and de-icing pad with the funds this bill will authorize.”

The funds are distributed on a basis of need. According to the FAA, demand for airport improvement funds exceeds what’s available, and distribution is based on national priorities. Funds typically are first given out to projects dealing with cargo and general aviation. The rest of the funds are distributed to “set-aside projects.” Things such as airport noise and the military airport programs get first choice from these funds. The remainder are called “true discretionary funds” and are distributed according to a national prioritization formula.

According to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet [D-Colo.], who actively supported the reauthorization bill, it is long overdue. Bennet said in a statement that the bill puts an end to partisan delays and clears the way for critical construction projects, allowing for long-term plans by reducing delays for travelers, improving safety and air travel access in Colorado’s airports.

“This grant is an important tool for the airport and for the Telluride community,” Bennet said in a statement. “It will allow for much needed improvements that will help keep the airport safe and reliable, which is essential to supporting economic development in the community.”

The FAA bill passed the senate by a vote of 75-20 and was signed into law by President Barack Obama Feb. 14.

The bill did draw some controversy due to its provisions for licensing drones in U.S. airspace.