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FAA grants Sacramento International Airport $27.4 million for runway repair project

‘Passenger activity … has outstripped our facilities.’ Here’s what Sacramento’s airport needs next

Sacramento County Airports Director Cindy Nichol talks about how Sacramento International Airport needs to plan for new facilities – including gates, parking and runway maintenance – on Monday, March 19, 2019.
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Sacramento County Airports Director Cindy Nichol talks about how Sacramento International Airport needs to plan for new facilities – including gates, parking and runway maintenance – on Monday, March 19, 2019.

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded a $27.4 million infrastructure grant to Sacramento International Airport Wednesday as part of a larger airport funding program.

The grant will be used to fund ongoing runway repairs at SMF, while five other California airports received smaller grants, according to a news release issued by the FAA.

The airport’s west runway has been closed since April for a $46.3 million renovation that’s expected to last through October, Sacramento County spokeswoman Laurie Slothower said. The $27.4 million grant will go toward the project while the airport will be paying the remaining $18.9 million, she said.

The project involves removing the existing asphalt and putting in new concrete, Slothower said, which has many benefits over asphalt.

Concrete lasts longer than asphalt and retains less water, which means fewer potholes on the runway, Slothower said.

Heavier planes may also be able to land on the new runway since concrete is more durable than asphalt, Slothower said.

Updating the asphalt runway, which was first put in when the airport opened in 1967, will make for a “smoother, safer ride for passengers,” Slothower said.

The project has resulted in five-hour closures of the east runway — currently the only runway in operation at the airport — twice a month on Sunday mornings.

The FAA also awarded $15.5 million to Long Beach Airport, $11.7 million to Brackett Field Airport, $6.8 million to Monterey Regional Airport, $4.6 million to Bishop Airport and $2.3 million to Hollywood Burbank Airport, according to the release.

“This significant investment in airport improvements will fund construction and rehabilitation projects that will help maintain high levels of safety in U.S. aviation,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.

The six grants were the first of 432 planned in the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, totaling $3.18 billion across the country.

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