Money will go to improvements, job creation
BY KIMBER SOLANA
The Salinas Municipal Airport will receive Monterey County’s first major local grant from the economic stimulus package signed into law by President Obama, officials announced Tuesday. Airport Manager Gary Petersen said the $2.7 million will help create an estimated 40 new jobs and “provide a longer-lasting airport.” The money, about one-third the amount requested by the airport, will allow it to accelerate efforts on three major projects – runway repair, runway configuration and improving roadways for airplanes, Petersen said. “This is a substantial project for a major paving contractor,” he said.
Officials say the projects will also create jobs for workers such as surveyors, electricians and “airport stripers,” whose duties include painting and maintaining runway stripes.
Petersen said the airport will pay for the work upfront and begin receiving reimbursements from the Economic Recovery Act as early as May.
The airport is also expecting an additional $1.5 million in grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration through its Airport Improvement Program.
The 900-acre airport holds more than 200 recreational aircraft, as well as corporate and agricultural aircraft, including crop dusters.
“[The airport] will look newer and cleaner, it won’t be bigger or longer,” Petersen said.
With the help of the FAA and Kimley-Horn and Associates, an airport-engineering consultant, the airport requested about $8 million for the projects in January.
Despite receiving around 30 percent of the requested funds, Peterson said he’s not complaining.
“We’re still thrilled with it,” he said, adding that the FAA received only a share of $1.1 billion from the $787 billion stimulus bill.
The FAA originally requested $3 billion. Petersen said the projects will have no impact on the California International Airshow this August. “We’ll schedule the construction around the show,” Petersen said.