U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao recently announced that the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration will award $1.187 billion in airport safety and infrastructure grants – and some of that money is coming to Aitkin

The total includes $731 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants and an additional $455 million in Supplemental Discretionary grants. The money will be available for 100 percent of the eligible costs under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Among the recipients was the Aitkin Municipal Airport-Steve Kurtz Field.

The airport will receive about $29,000 total, according to Aitkin County Commissioner Mark Wedel, who is also on the airport commission.

Aitkin received two different amounts for two different purposes. The first is $20,000 for operations at the airport, which have been impacted by the pandemic.

“Those dollars are simply used for operations, interruptions, etc., due to the pandemic.”

The second amount is for maintenance.

A worn concrete grate at the entrace to the airport has been identified for replacement.

The grate discouraged wildlife from entering the airport, and served as the entrance.

Now the airport is putting in a gate that will regulate entrance and exit from the airport.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $87,000 – 90% is being covered by the FAA. Normally, the other 10% would be the responsibility of the airport, but because of the CARES act, now will be covered.

“It all helps,” Wedel said.

The combined AIP and Supplemental Discretionary grants around the country will fund a wide variety of projects. Some of these projects are purchasing aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, constructing runways and taxiways, repairing runways and taxiways, installing aircraft lighting and signage, conducting airport master plan studies, and installing airport perimeter fencing.

“The 439 grants will ensure that airport sponsors can make the necessary improvements so their airports can operate in a safe and efficient manner for years to come,” said FAA Administrator Stephen M. Dickson.

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