Terry Hallett, manager at Tri-State Steuben County Airport stands along a taxiway for the runway, which will get a major upgrade from a federal grant.

ANGOLA — The Tri-State Steuben County Municipal Airport, 5220 W. U.S. 20, received a federal grant June 30 for runway rehabilitation.

Tri-State’s grant is for $1.65 million, announced along with 382 others by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. Fort Wayne International Airport was awarded nearly $4.04 million for its taxiway reconstruction project.

More than $800 million was allocated for airport safety and infrastructure by the Federal Aviation Administration. Grants went to 46 states, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Marshall Islands.

“This nearly $800 million federal investment in airport infrastructure will strengthen safety, improve travel, generate jobs and provide many economic benefits for local communities,” said Chao.

The total includes $689 million from the Airport Improvement Program and $104.4 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act grants to equal a 100% federal share.

No matching funds were needed, said Tri-State airport Manager Terry Hallett.

The Tri-State update is for safety reasons, Hallett said. The contract for the project has been awarded to E&B Paving, which has 12 offices in Indiana, including one in Fort Wayne. E&B will grind and rehabilitate the runway and adjoining taxiways for an estimated $1.2 million.

No timeline has been set for the construction, which will close the airport to air traffic for around 10 days during the initial construction.

“Then it has to set for 30 days before they can do the striping and grooving,” Hallett said. Temporary markings will be put down for pilots during the month while the pavement cures.

The grooves will be an improvement that will siphon water.

“It’s kind of the FAA standard now for all runways,” Hallett said.

The 4,670-foot runway received a new overlay in 2003, the most recent update. Runway improvement was on the airport’s 10-year plan and has been a priority for around five years, Hallett said. The next major project will be wildlife fencing and enhanced lighting, which may be done in a couple of years, he said.

Established in 1930, the airport is operated by a board of directors and receives some Steuben County property tax funding. It is home to more than 40 general aviation aircraft, most of which consist of single-engine planes, along with some twin-engine and turbo-prop planes. Annual activity level is estimated at 20,000 aircraft movements, with 50% of those being transient aircraft.

Fuel sales and hangar fees help support the airport, Hallett said. The closure due to construction might put a pinch on income, but will result in a needed safety upgrade that has been on the board’s bucket list for half a decade.

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