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Laconia airport seeks FAA grant to fund $3.2 million upgrade

Union Leader Correspondent

January 22. 2018 8:13PM
An employee at the Laconia Municipal Airport places a protective cover over the engine on a parked jet. The airport is making a second bid for a $3.2 million FAA grant to fund improvements. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

GILFORD — The Laconia Municipal Airport stands to recoup about $155,000 it spent to plan, design and bid facility improvements via grant funds from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, Aeronautics Bureau.

Airport manager Marv Everson said the Airport Authority has already approved the grant agreement and Laconia Mayor Ed Engler’s signature on behalf of the City of Laconia was added Monday night, the last step before getting the final approval from Gov. Chris Sununu and the Executive Council.

The airport initially applied for $3.2 million in grant funding through the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for the extension of a taxiway, the expansion of the parking apron for visiting aircraft and the removal and relocation of an existing runway drainage system.

Grant requests outpace available funding and, Everson said, awards are prioritized to benefit projects that have the greatest impact on aviation safety The Laconia project did not receive FAA funding in 2017 but a second application will be submitted in April, Everson said.

The project is part of the master plan for the airport that has been in operation since 1941.

The airport’s east/west runway is 5,890 feet long and is capable of landing aircraft as large as a Gulf Stream G650, which is just under 100-feet long.

The original north/south runway has been closed for several years. It was abandoned after it needed rehabilitation and the FAA refused to put any money towards it, citing its crosswind design. The residential development that has occurred on the surrounding mountains that would likely generate complaints about takeoff noise, coupled with the public safety risk in the event of a crash on approach or departure were also cited as cause to deny funding.

The grant funds the airport is currently seeking would finance the removal of the underground drainage system that serves the abandoned runway and the installation of a new one in a location that would not be impacted by future development. The system would channel rain and snow melt away from the east/west runway surface.

A general contractor has already been awarded the bid and has agreed to keep the price for its work fixed until the 2018 FAA grants are awarded, according to Everson.

The project includes expanding the itinerant aircraft parking apron by 496 square yards which could allow as many as 19 more small planes to park, Everson said. The work would include constructing, marking, lighting and signing a 2,300-foot long by 35-foot wide extension to taxiway “E.”

The master plan calls for that extension to be continued allowing for the future construction of additional aircraft hangars along its length. The FAA announces grant awards in September.

If the Laconia Airport receives funding, Everson said, site preparations would be done and other work would continue until halted by winter weather. Construction would resume in the spring.

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