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The grant to reconstruct the Madras Municipal Airport's taxiway is the largest awarded in the state.

PHOTO BY PHIL COMINGORE - The Madras Municipal Airport, as viewed from the air, has received a grant to reconstruct the airport taxiways. The General Aviation Building is the second building from the lower right corner.The Madras Municipal Airport was the big winner last week, when Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced grants for five airports across the state.

Of the $5.8 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation for repairs and improvements at Oregon airports, more than $2.5 million has been allocated for Madras,

The city will receive $2,509,496 to reconstruct the taxiway at the Madras Municipal Airport, which accommodates more than 60,000 aircraft arriving every year.

"The reconstruction of the taxiway is important for keeping the airport economically viable," said airport Manager Rob Berg, who also owns Berg Air. "We reconstructed the runway three years ago and the last time the taxiway was reconstructed was 25 years ago. The Madras airport is a huge economic driver for Madras and the entire Central Oregon area."

Berg, Madras City Manager Gus Burril and Public Works Director Jeff Hurd determined the scope of the project for the grant application, and also obtained a grant of $150,000 from the Oregon Department of Aviation for assistance with the grant match.

"Madras' airport serves a wide range of aviation customers, including emergency services (air ambulance, aerial fire suppression operations, etc.), agriculture aerial applications, maintenance and testing of federal and state contract air tankers, flight training, business jet commuters, and the general aviation industry," said Burril, who is very thankful that the community has been successful in obtaining grant assistance for the airport.

"These grants provide much-needed support to rural airports across the state," said Sen. Merkley, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. "That is why I fought to adequately fund transportation, and I will continue to push for the infrastructure funding our communities deserve to connect to economic opportunity, health care services, and more."

"Quality of life for rural Oregonians includes infrastructure investments in airports so they are safe and dependable," Sen. Wyden said. "Transportation resources like these grants play a big part in achieving that security and reliability for Oregonians living and working in and around Hillsboro, Madras, Baker City, Bandon and Roseburg."

The Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program provides grants to public agencies for the planning and development of airports. Through the grants, public agencies are able to obtain funding to make safety improvements and replace outdated equipment.

According to Burril, the current Taxiway Rehabilitation Project is composed of a full-depth reconstruction of the parallel taxiway; reconstruction of existing paved shoulders; reconstruction of the existing end and midfield taxiways; construction of a second midfield taxiway; adjustments to lighting; installation of lighted signs; and drainage improvements.

The city has been leveraging grant money to make major improvements at the airport over the past dozen years.

In 2015, the city reconstructed 5,079 feet of runway — which hadn't been resurfaced for 30 years — at a cost of about $3 million. For that project, the city received an Oregon Department of Transportation Connect Oregon V grant of $792,000, and was approved for up to $2,059,169 from the FAA Airport Improvement Program, and contributed $200,000 in matching funds.

With several grants and cost-sharing with Erickson, the city was able to extend Berg Drive and make upgrades to Cherry Lane in 2014.

Through another ODOT grant (Connect Oregon III), the airport completed a $1.7 million project to resurface ramps, add lights and update technology in 2011.

The city was able to weatherize the south hangar with $118,000 from a combination of Oregon Department of Energy and city funds.

In 2008, the city was awarded a $2.1 million grant from Connect Oregon II to construct the 44,000-square-foot hangar, which was completed in 2009, and now houses Erickson Aero Tanker. Along with other grants in 2009, the city was able to make improvements to Berg Drive.

The first major improvement to the airport was the construction of the 3,600-square-foot General Aviation Building in 2006, which cost about $700,000, and was funded by an FAA grant and airport capital improvements funds.

"These projects continue to transform the airport," said Burril. "It assures that Madras is open for business and is ready to expand our capacity to continue serving the growing aviation industry."

Other grant recipients included Baker City, which was awarded $1,196,217, to reconstruct the tarmac at Baker City Municipal Airport; Port of Portland, awarded $1,149,820, to conduct an environmental assessment as part of its Hillsboro Airport runway safety area project; Oregon Department of Aviation, $786,954, to install airfield guidance signs, airport beacons, and miscellaneous NAVAID equipment at the Bandon State Airport in Coos County; and the city of Roseburg, $200,000, to remove obstructions at the Roseburg Regional Airport.

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