Improvements are on the way for Casper Natrona County International Airport, thanks to a Federal grant approved by the Natrona County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night.

Airport Manager Glenn Januska says that the 6-point-five-million dollar grant will largely go to improvements on an airport taxiway.  "The main portion of the project is the reconstruction of Taxiway Alpha," he says, describing a taxiway as a driveway between the aircraft parking ramp and the runway.  "What this project does is that it mills off the section of asphalt, puts down new asphalt.  What we're doing is, we're not only preserving the pavement, so we get the useful life out of it, but it really kind of extends that."

The project also includes replacements to visual landing aids and upgrades from analog runway indentifier signs to L.E.D. fixtures.

The Federal grant is part of a discretionary fund that the airport had to apply for and will leave the project a quarter-of-a-million dollars short. Januska says that the remainder of costs will be covered by annual entitlement dollars that the airport receives each year.

"The grant itself is about $6.5 million," says Januska.  "Those Federal funds covers about 95% of construction.  The state pays about 3% and the airport pays 2%."

Januska goes on to say that the airport has an aviation trust fund which is replenished in a traveler's ticket price for a flight.  Similar to the highway trust fund, essentially the more people using air travel, the more money in the trust fund.  Every year Casper Natrona County International Airport gets $1 million in entitlement funds, but the $6.5 million grant had to be applied for.  "This money is a two-part funding.  We're an airport that receives a minimum of a million dollars every year.  The rest is discretionary funds, and we compete for those funds.  We have to have a larger project that has to compete, from a priority standpoint, to get those funds."

The project was started in 2007, but because of cost escalations CNCIA was only able to complete a portion of it.  Following next year's improvements, the project will finally draw to a close, nearly seven years later.

The project will kick-off next spring and is expected to wrap up after approximately 2 months.