$6.7 million in grants may land at airport; City manager says work required to comply with FAA regs.


Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

WORCESTER - The city is eyeing $6.7 million in federal and state grants to finance runway, taxiway and other airfield improvements at Worcester Regional Airport.

City Manager Michael V. O'Brien is asking the City Council tonight for authorization to apply for the grant money.

He said the work would ensure that the airport remains in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations and the city's operating agreement with the Massachusetts Port Authority.

Assistant City Manager Julie A. Jacobson said the airfield improvements were identified and planned for in the Airport Master Plan and the Airport Capital Improvement Plan. She said they had been initially scheduled for 2012, but the city received notification from the FAA last week of the availability of funding for the runway rehabilitation and reconstruction of the taxiway.

The FAA currently has $3.76 million in grant money available for the first phase of the project, but to receive that money the city's grant application must be submitted by Friday.

"These funds will cover the design work and approximately half of the construction costs," Ms. Jacobson wrote in a report that goes before the City Council tonight.

She added that grant applications for the remaining $2.94 million for Phase 2 would then be submitted to the FAA and Massachusetts Department of Transportation by May 1.

The total project costs would be funded on a reimbursable basis by the FAA (95 percent) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation - Aeronautics Division (5 percent). No local match is required.

In the past 20 years, the city has received nearly $30 million in federal and state grants for improvements to the airport. Just last year, the city received $2.6 million for mandated safety improvements, while it received another $4 million in 2008 for runway improvements.

Robert J. Pelland, senior project manager for Massport, said the $4 million in 2008 was used to reconstruct 3,000 feet of pavement on Runway 11/29. He said the remaining 4,000 feet of pavement on that runway also needs to be replaced because it is more than...

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