Billings Gazette: FAA sending $2 million for Billings airport improvements

Billings Logan International Airport will receive almost $2 million for infrastructure improvements, Montana Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester announced Wednesday.

The funding is part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. A news release from the senators’ offices says the money will be spent on extending taxiways and improving the airport’s drainage system.

“The AIP grants allow for enhancing safety and continuing the expansion of the Billings airport, and we are grateful to have these needed funds,” said Kevin Ploehn, the city’s director of aviation and transit.

Ploehn said the projects being funded include the extension of the east taxi lane so that hangar development can continue on the east end of the airport. The storm drainage improvements will continue stormwater enhancement projects that the airport has been pursuing.

Underground piping will be installed near the area of a future water detention pond planned for the north side of the airport. The piping will ultimately transport excess water from the detention pond down to Alkali Creek. Ploehn said the airport is taking bids for the project and hopes to have it underway by July, with the entire water diversion project completed by the winter. 

Issues with water collection along the main taxiway can create delays that force incoming flights to circle overhead or divert their landing altogether, Ploehn said.

The taxiway extension grant is for $400,000, and $1.5 million will be spent on improving drainage.

“Montana is a vast state, with a large tourism industry that contributes to our economy and supports good-paying jobs,” Tester said in a news release. “This investment will help connect the Magic City to the rest of the country and world.”

Daines said grants were also awarded to airports in Forsyth, Hardin, Broadus, Circle, Livingston, Malta, Ronan, Shelby and Wolf Point. In all, $4.6 in airport funding was announced.

FAA reauthorization legislation is currently being debated in the Senate, Tester said.