(The Center Square) – Some of New Mexico’s airports are about to see a financial boost from the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed in November.
Among the 46 airports to get a share of the $18 million headed to the state from the bill is the Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington. One of New Mexico’s eight passenger-service airports, Four Corners will receive $295,000. The grants will be administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Farmington Daily Times reported.
“It’ll mean that the facility will stay in really good shape in order to continue to attract aviation activity,” Michael Lewis, Four Corners airport manager, told The Center Square. “It will allow the facility to be in adequate shape – because if a paved area becomes unserviceable, it has to be closed.”
Final decisions on what the money will be spent on at Four Corners are yet to be handed down; however, the FAA stated the funds "can be invested in runways, taxiways, safety and sustainability projects, as well as terminal, airport-transit connections and roadway projects", the Daily Times reported.
Lewis said he expects much of the funding will go toward projects that are not considered a priority under the FAA's annual Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding.
“So my plan is probably to use it for aprons or ramp areas – places where airplanes park – upgrade and maintenance to those paved areas, because basically a lot of the money that we use goes into paving projects because they’re so incredibly expensive,” he said.
Funding is already set aside for overhauling runways and taxiways at Four Corners, he added.
Over time, New Mexico’s hot weather and intense sun take a toll on the airport’s paved areas, leading to deterioration. If not properly maintained, the pavement becomes unusable, Lewis said.
“We don’t ever want to get near that,” he said.
Lewis pointed out that it is a lot less expensive in the long run to maintain pavement than rebuild it, adding the airport isn’t in dire need but this will keep them from getting there.
Other airports in the northwest region of the state will also receive federal funding, according to the Daily Times report. The Aztec Municipal Airport is to receive $110,000. The Shiprock Airstrip and the Crownpoint Airport, both on the Navajo Nation and managed by the Navajo Division of Transportation, will also receive $110,000 each, according to the Daily Times.