County authorizes FAA grant application for air park runway work

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 June 19 to authorize grant applications to the Federal Aviation Administration including one for runway safety improvements at Fallbrook Community Airpark.

“The county runs a busy system of airports that relies heavily on state and Federal grants for expansion and maintenance. The Fallbrook air park is no exception. State and Federal dollars can be put to good use toward safety improvements at the air park, which is good news for aviation enthusiasts in Fallbrook,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “I’m a big supporter of private aviation. It’s very important, especially to private enterprise.”

The FAA sets aside entitlement grants each year for qualifying airports. The county’s general aviation airports, including Fallbrook Community Airpark, are each entitled to approximately $150,000 annually; much of that money is used for repair and major maintenance. The FAA in conjunction with the State Division of Aeronautics also has a discretionary grant program. The FAA’s Airport Improvement Program provides grants which fund up to 90 percent of qualified airport improvement projects. Although the grants are competitive, the FAA allocates a certain amount for each class of airports in each FAA region. The State Division of Aeronautics has a California Aid to Airports Program which offers grants of up to 5 percent of the FAA award when the state budget allows; since 5 percent of 90 percent is 4.5 percent the county would only be responsible for 5.5 percent of a project’s cost if full Federal and state grant money is awarded. The county’s contributions are provided through the Airport Enterprise Fund derived from rent collected from businesses leasing land.

“Grant funding is a critical piece of airport capital improvement projects,” said county Department of Public Works deputy director Mike Robinson.

From time to time grant funds become available toward the end of the Federal and state fiscal years when airports in the region are unable to complete projects. The grant applications authorized June 19 seek money from that funding source, so their success will depend on the amount available from that source as well as the competitiveness of the County Airports projects.

“These grants are to maintain safety and improvements of Federally-obligated installations,” said County Airports director Pete Drinkwater. “They’re essentially for these Federal goals.”

“It’s for infrastructure around our airports,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

The grant application for Fallbrook Community Airpark requests $350,000 to design Runway 18/36 safety area improvements.

If any of the grants the county seeks are awarded, the Board of Supervisors will approve the advertisement for bid and award of a construction contract at the appropriate time.

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