Tue, Sep 12, 2023 2:46 PM
By Tom Joyce, The Center Square
The Federal Aviation Administration will provide Columbia Gorge Regional Airport with $2,965,213 for airport infrastructure improvements.
The funding comes from the department's FY23 Airport Improvement Program.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, who worked with the City of Dalles to obtain the funding, said the airport is vital for the local economy.
“The Columbia Gorge Regional Airport is an important hub serving community members, businesses, and visitors who wish to explore the Gorge’s remarkable economic opportunities and landscapes,” Merkley said in a press release. “Further, the work funded will help unlock the economic potential of the airport’s grounds and support the critical wildfire fighting aircraft and crew who stage there during fire season.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said the airport helps improve the quality of life for rural Oregon residents.
“The airport serves the Columbia Gorge as a crucial connection for area residents and businesses to travel, transport goods and medical supplies, and contribute to the quality of life in rural Oregon,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified these resources to improve infrastructure are heading to this hub so it can continue to be a safe and reliable transportation option for the region.”
U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., expressed a similar sentiment, calling the airport "critical infrastructure."
“The Columbia Gorge Regional Airport provides small businesses, members of the community, and tourists from around the country with the ability to enjoy the natural beauty of our region and unleash new economic opportunities," Newhouse said. "I am proud to have helped the airport secure the necessary funding to improve its critical infrastructure so it can continue to benefit the economy in our region."
Columbia Gorge Regional Airport will use the newfound funding to construct a taxi lane and reconstruct an apron.
“We are thrilled to have been granted the funds for the South Apron and Taxiway Project," Jim Wilcox, Board Chair, Columbia Gorge Regional Airport, said. "The Columbia Gorge Regional Airport has been steadily growing infrastructure and employment through public and private investment since 2006. This grant will update our infrastructure to better serve the heavier aircraft now frequenting the airport and provide vital infrastructure to allow for additional hangers to house the waiting list of people wanting to base their planes at CGRA."
Additionally, Matthew Klebes, City Manager for the City of The Dalles, praised the FAA for its decision to provide the funding.
“Columbia Gorge Regional Airport is a critical economic driver for our region as well as a center of wildfire response and disaster recovery," Klebes said. "This funding will enable vital facility improvements to expand general aviation capacity, further underscoring the FAA’s longstanding, essential role as an airport partner."