Falls airport lands $1.16-million federal grant

International Falls
Laurel Beager
Editor, The Journal

Falls International Airport will receive more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation for new safety equipment and infrastructure projects.
Congressman Rick Nolan, a member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, announced last Wednesday that grants totalling nearly $3.5 million will be provided to airports in International Falls, Little Falls, Princeton, and Bemidji, Mn.
“Making investments in our transportation and infrastructure systems is key to strengthening rural Minnesota’s economy,” Nolan said in a statement.
“These resources will improve airport infrastructure, keep travellers safe, and create good-paying local jobs,” he added.
Falls International Airport will receive $1.16 million to acquire snow removal equipment, reconstruct runway 13/31, and rehabilitate the apron at Falls International-Einarson Field.
International Falls Mayor Bob Anderson, who also is chairman of the local airport commission, said the money supports the needs of the airport, which is co-owned by the city and Koochiching County.
“We are very, very fortunate,” he said of the airport and funding.
“We are one of the key airports in the state and country, and they’re ready to give money here to keep it good.”
Anderson noted the city and county will provide just five percent of the projects’ costs as a result of the grant.
“We’re getting 95 percent funding from [the U.S.] Federal Aviation Administration, so the county and city only have to come up with five percent of funds,” he explained.
Local funds of about $60,000, combined with the grant and money from tickets and gas taxes, pay for the projects.
Anderson also provided additional details of how the money will be used, noting the need for a new sweeper to remove from the grooves in the runway sand placed there during winter months to provide friction in landing.
He said part of the money will be used for final designs of Phase 1 of the runway construction, for which a bid recently was awarded.
The project is expected to be complete in summer, 2019, Anderson noted.
The last piece of funding will be used on the apron where about 20 tie-down posts placed into the blacktop at Einarson’s Flying Service need to be replaced.
Anderson said soil conditions are forcing the posts upward and snowplows have struck several.
In addition, Nolan provided information about the other three airport grants:
•Bemidji Regional Airport–$1.7 million to acquire aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle, and to rehabilitate the apron, runway 13/31, and the taxiway;
•Princeton Municipal Airport–$227,912 to reconstruct runway 15/33, reconstruct lighting on runway 15/33, reconstruct taxiway (A), and reconstruct lighting on taxiway; and
•Little Falls/Morrison County-Lindbergh Field Airport–$174,309 to construct runway 18/36.