Recently the Oregon Department of Aviation (ODA) Board approved the Critical Oregon Airport Relief Program (COAR) grant requests. There was a total of $6 Million in requests – including the Astoria Regional Airport. There were three Oregon airport categories applying for the $2 million that was available. Category two and three airports did not receive any grant funding. Even within the category one airports, there was not enough grant funds available to meet all of their needs. Two category one airport grant requests were not funded. Fortunately, the Astoria Regional Airport request was granted.
There is no other available funding source for these airports now that there is no Connect Oregon grant dollars for the foreseeable future. If programs such as Connect Oregon are not reinstated, all Oregon airports would be impacted.
The Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton has an estimated $20 million in deferred maintenance right now. Most airports are eligible for FAA grants for runway projects that often run into the millions and require a ten percent match. With the Connect Oregon grant program no longer available, the ten percent matches are not feasible. With COAR grants now being the only grant source, Oregon’s rural airports are in deep trouble.
The Legislature needs to refund the Connect Oregon grant program. Oregon’s rural airports are an economic lifeline. If elected, funding Connect Oregon will be one of my highest priorities.