State funds help busy airport make improvements
Smack dab in the middle of the Willamette Valley sits one of Oregon’s busiest – if not the busiest – non-commercial airports: the Corvallis Municipal Airport. But it’s likely most of us won’t be flying in or out of there anytime soon.
The Corvallis Airport, or CVO for those who like to refer to airports by their 3-letter designation, is used mainly by hobbyists, flight instructors, shippers like FedEx and UPS, corporate jets and medical services: to the tune of about 70,000 take-offs and landings every year.
“We have an accredited flight training school here and that makes it very popular,” said Lisa Scherf, Public Transportation Services supervisor for the city of Corvallis, which owns the airport. “We have kind of a niche for hobbyists and flight instructors.”
Another thing the airport has is better lighting. Separated runways. New perimeter fencing (to deter the local elk population). And much more. And it’s thanks in part to a Connect Oregon VI grant (2015) – managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation – which helped the airport secure Federal Aviation Administration funds. The city wrapped up the project last fall and Scherf said it turned out well.
“I feel very lucky that we’re going to have runways in tip-top condition in a short amount of time.”
Current and coming improvements
With the Connect Oregon grant, the city was able to fix the most urgent needs for the popular airport. The facility has two runways: the main runway and the “summer” runway. The Connect Oregon funds were used to grind down and repave the summer runway and on other improvements.
For example, the two runways used to intersect, and the FAA is requiring separation of runways; that was accomplished with the CO funds.
“We also put in a new drainage system, edge lighting, lighted signs and an emergency generator for backup airfield lighting,” Scherf said.
Scherf and the city were so pleased with the project, they’ve submitted another Connect Oregon request. It is currently under consideration with about 50 other worthy applicants for the next round of the multimodal, non-highway funding program, updated in the historic Keep Oregon Moving funding package from 2017.
One of the priorities in ODOT’s Strategic Action Plan is creating and maintaining a modern, multimodal transportation system; helping marinas and ports, freight, rail and, of course, airports, definitely moves the state along in that direction.
With the next award – If Scherf and the city are successful in their next effort – they will rehabilitate the main runway and add a field lighting system that has slowly failed over the past year. Currently, if pilots want to land at night, they have to go to Eugene. Of course, Scherf is hopeful, especially because things worked out so well with the recent Connect Oregon project.
“It’s been a positive experience,” Scherf said. “We’re very grateful.”