Shift in funding could delay airport improvements

May 16, 2002|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

A shift in federal funding priorities could delay a $3.5 million upgrade to Carroll County Regional Airport near Westminster.

Money would be diverted from airport construction projects across the country to the newly created Transportation Security Agency, federal transportation officials announced last week. Maryland regional airports would lose $16 million in grant money this year if the decision remains final, said Bruce Mundie of the Maryland Aviation Administration.

The transfer had to be made because Congress has underfunded the security agency, said Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta.

Maryland legislators, including Democratic Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski, have begun lobbying for money to be returned to grant projects.

If the money is not returned to this year's budget, improvements to Carroll's airport would have to wait, said Gary Horst, the county's director of enterprise and recreation services.

The scheduled improvements include grading and a new layer of blacktop where airplanes park after taxiing.

Federal grants would pay for 90 percent of the work, which is designed to get the airport fully to Federal Aviation Administration standards, Horst said.

In a presentation Tuesday to the county commissioners, Horst recommended that the county find a construction company to do the work because funding could be restored this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

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