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Bend Airport upgrades in the works to improve safety and revamp equipment

(Update: Adding video, comments from airport manager)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --  The Bend Municipal Airport, along with eight others in Oregon, are getting federal money for safety upgrades. Bend's general aviation airport has received nearly $183,000 from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The federal funds will go toward the initial design phase for this year's rehabilitation project, including adding lights on the taxiways.

"Currently this is a reflective light can that is noticeable at night -not necessarily highly visible," Airport Manager Tracy Williams said Wednesday. "We will be replacing them with actual lights."

Williams goes on to show what the upgrades will look like.

"Once the light commands that I showed to you are replaced, they'll look just like this, except they will be blue."

There are several improvements underway to ensure safety as well as enhance the pavement that's seeing signs of aging.

The project includes extending the life of the surfaces for two taxiways named Alpha and Bravo. The runways will also be renumbered. 

Williams said, "The current numbers due to the magnetic compass are currently 16 and 34. These will change next year to 17 and 35."

The McCaffery Fire is now 100% contained, but the fire burned about three miles east of the Redmond Airport - the terminal stayed open but the airport's airfield closed for several hours to dedicate air space to aerial firefighting efforts.

The incident raises questions about airport emergency plans. 

Williams said, "We call 9-1-1 and the county sheriff's dispatch will send the appropriate resource."

The airport, which is adding a traffic control tower starting this summer, also depends on the US Forest Service during fire season.

"They will stay for a period of days or weeks regardless, depending on how long it takes for them to complete their mission," she said. 

Designs for the project start this month, with construction planned for next summer or fall.  

Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley recently announced a federal investment of more than $2.3 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for eight rural airports throughout Oregon, including nearly $183,000 for Bend Municipal Airport. 

Bend Airport Manager Tracy Williams said last week the federal funds will go toward the initial design phase of this year's rehabilitation project for two taxiways, Alpha and Bravo.

Next year, in the second, construction phase, the taxiways will be resurfaced and restriped, and medium-intensity taxiway lights will be installed, Williams said.

"The paved surfaces are showing signs of aging, and currently there are no lights on the taxiways," Williams said. "This project will extend the pavement's useful life and enhance safety with the addition of lights."

Last week, workers were doing crack seal and joint repair work, temporarily closing portions of the airport in advance of the larger project, she said.

Meanwhile, groundbreaking is expected by the end of July for the long-awaited air traffic control tower project.

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Here's the rest of the senators' news release:

“From timely access to lifesaving medicines, to opportunities for small businesses to deliver their goods quickly, rural airports are often the lifeblood of small communities throughout the state,” Wyden said. “I am gratified that my work on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to generate much-needed support for Oregon communities to flourish in every nook and cranny of the state.”     

"Oregon's regional airports serve as vital hubs for our communities – supporting local businesses, connecting travelers to world-class recreational opportunities, and providing essential lifelines during natural disasters," Merkley said. "These federal investments will modernize infrastructure at airports across Oregon, ensuring safety and fostering economic success in our state." 

The investments from the Federal Aviation Administration in Oregon airports are as follows:
·         Christmas Valley, Christmas Valley Park and Recreation District: $345,000
·         Scappoose, Port of Columbia County: $341,429
·         Hermiston, City of Hermiston: $182,786
·         Ontario, City of Ontario: $128,852
·         Tillamook, Port of Tillamook Bay: $274,180
·         Lakeview, Lake County: $274,180
·         North Bend, Coos County Airport District: $609,290
·         Bend; City of Bend: $182,786

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.

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