The airports in La Crosse and WaKeeney were part of nine across the state selected to receive funding under the Kansas Department of Transportation 2017 Kansas Airport Improvement Program.
The projects were selected under the second phase of the program that includes improvements each airport might need. Each city or town asking for the funding from KDOT had to submit a grant to the state.
“KAIP has not only funded key improvements at local airports, it has helped create a statewide aviation network that enhances both the health and economic well-being of the entire state,” KDOT Director of Aviation Merrill Atwater said in a press release.
Trego-WaKeeney Airport Manager Michael Ghumm said the funding is something the state has helped the airport with in the past.
“The last several years, we’ve gone through the state with grants,” Ghumm said. “We’ve been approved for various improvements.”
The Rush County airport, northeast of La Crosse, received $607,433 in funding from the state. It will be used for runway repairs. Jeff Vap, the secretary of the airport committee, wrote the grant to the state.
Vap has worked on the airport committee since the early 1980s. He said the condition of the airport runway, which is asphalt, gradually has gotten worse and has large cracks across it. What will happen is the runway will be grinded down, and then it will be relaid.
“The problem with asphalt is that it’s like bread in that you need to keep kneading it to keep the cracks out,” Vap said. “It’s a constant job to keep it usable.”
Trego County received $441,000 for its improvements through the grant Ghumm wrote. The airport is located a mile south of WaKeeney on U.S. Highway 283. Improvements will go into LED lighting that will go along the runway and for lane markings and updated markers. The county airport has a concrete surface they went to through a state grant a few years ago. The runway had been asphalt before.
“Concrete has been a nice improvement,” Ghumm said.
Ghumm and Vap both said the airports have been used for emergency services pertaining to medical or hospital needs. Agricultural services also are a big use of the airports for sprayer planes.