- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2015

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Four Central Oregon airports have asked the state for funding to help expand after lagging through the recession.

Airports in Bend, Sunriver, Sisters and Prineville each requested money through Connect Oregon, a program designed to support the state’s non-highway infrastructure.

The program uses funds from the state’s lottery toward any project that creates jobs and improves infrastructure other than highways, including marine, aviation, rail, transit and bike pedestrian projects.

“They call it ConnectOregon for a reason,” said Dave Campbell, head of operations at the Sisters Eagle Airport. “It’s to connect cities and infrastructures together, and connect those infrastructures to jobs.”

The Oregon Department of transportation has received 78 applications requesting a total of $90 million all vying for the $45 million in Connect Oregon’s coffers.

The Central Oregon airports asked for help funding projects that they say are necessary as traffic increases in the region.

“Our traffic count went from approximately 98,000 a year to almost 140,000. A big share of that was helicopters, but the fixed-wing has increased also. We don’t really see that tapering off,” Gary Judd, manager of the Bend Municipal Airport, said last week.

The Bend airport asked for $1.1 million to help with the separation of its fixed-wing and helicopter operations. The project would be matched by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Campbell said the airport in Sisters is seeking $455,000 to put a seal coat on a taxiway it build last year. The taxiway was built to improve safety and deal with increased demand.

In Prineville, city officials are hoping a $2 million grant would help the city consolidate and separate firefighting facilities from its flight academy and public flight areas at the Prineville Airport.

“The region has seen significant growth in recent years with many large companies such as Facebook and Apple building facilities in the area,” the city wrote in its request. “The airport has also been impacted by this growth in the past five years.”

The Sunriver Airport has asked for $1.9 million to help pay for a reconstructed taxiway, aircraft parking and runway paint.

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Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com

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