by Eric Mullens
DENVER — Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced Friday, March 9, that numerous southern Colorado airports have received state and federal grant funds for needed improvements.
Among Southern Colorado airports, Spanish Peaks Airfield in Walsenburg will receive the greatest state contribution, about $2.1 million that will be used for runway rehabilitation, land acquisition and snow-removal equipment.
The 90-percent grant was made by the aeronautical division of the Colorado Department of Transportation. Huerfano County will make up the 10-percent difference in in-kind work.
Currently the main runway at the Walsenburg field is 4,900’ long and 60’ wide. Airport Manager Gary Hanisch said this week the runway will be widened to 75 ‘, which meets the minimum standard for a Class 2 airport.
In addition Hanisch said the surface of the current runway will be replaced with fresh asphalt and the base will be reworked to prevent moisture from damaging it.
The runway portion of the project should cost approximately $1.8 million. There will also be work done on either side of the flight-line. Hanisch said there is a lot of mature brush growth along the sides of the flightline and that will be removed and the land graded.
There are also plans to acquire land, through a purchase deal or easement for clear approach zones to the runway.
The purchase of a small front end loader with a snow blower attachment is also part of the upgrade plan. Hanisch explained that scraping snow off of a runway with a traditional blade may cause damage to the surface.
The state grants amount to $20.4 million with funds derived from state aviation fuel tax revenues.
“Colorado’s airports are an important part of our state’s economic engine,” Hickenlooper said. “By leveraging these grants with local and federal funds, these critical airport improvements will create jobs and help ensure that Colorado’s transportation system can meet the growing needs of our businesses and travel industry.”
The grants will augment local and federal funds to total $61.3 million in airport improvements throughout the state.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward