Local airports land funds for improvements

By Tony Parra

U.S. senators from New Mexico announced Thursday that the Portales and Clovis municipal airports will receive more than $1.36 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to maintain and expand their airports.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. and U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M. announced that the Portales airport would receive $470,895 to reconstruct the main access road to the airport and for an environmental assessment, which is needed for the proposed extension and widening of runway 1-19 to accommodate large aircraft. The funding for the projects comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Mike Parkey director of the Portales Municipal Airport, said the most important aspect of the funding is for the environmental study.

“It’s the first thing (study) that needs to get done before extending and expanding our runway,” Parkey said. “The following step would be to apply for a grant (from the FAA) for the construction of the runway.”

Parkey said the expansion of the runway would allow for the Portales Municipal Airport to receive larger aircraft. Parkey said the city of Portales would have to match five percent of the funding. He said more than likely the city of Portales will receive the money within a couple of months and city officials could soon be issuing request for proposals.

The Clovis airport will receive $890,000 to purchase a new aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle and runway construction. The new vehicle will provide greater support of aircraft safety.

Steve Summers, Clovis Municipal Airport Director, said approximately $300,000 of the total funding will be used to purchase the new aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle. Summers said having an aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle is part of an FAA mandate for scheduled air service. He said the other portion will be used for construction work to the drainage on the intersection.

Summers said airport officials plan to go out for bid on the construction work in a couple of months.

“Transportation infrastructure is a crucial element in helping to attract businesses and new jobs to every corner of our state. I am pleased that the federal government is making this important investment in New Mexico’s airports,” Bingaman said in a press release.

Domenici also applauded the funding which will be provided for both airports.

“Airport safety is important to any municipal airport,” Domenici said. “These funds will make these facilities in Clovis and Portales better assets for each community.”