Mar. 1--DECATUR -- Decatur Airport has received a $1.9 million federal grant to continue improvements at the facility, it was announced Tuesday.
Airport Director Gene Marcinkowski was soaring when he learned of the Federal Aviation Administration grant, which was announced by U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana.
"The Decatur Airport plays a critical role in Central Illinois and this grant is an important element of the economic infrastructure needed to serve not just passengers but the commercial and agriculture sectors of this region," Johnson said in a statement.
Johnson's press secretary, Phil Bloomer, said the congressman has been a big advocate and lobbyist in trying to get money for Decatur.
"It takes everyone doing their part to get these types of competitive grants that other airports were trying to get," Bloomer said.
He said the FAA made the final decision on what airports would receive grant funding, but the money will be distributed by the U.S Department of Transportation.
Chris Riley, Decatur Park Board president, thanked Johnson for his support and confidence in Decatur Airport.
"It's an important airport to Central Illinois because of the number of businesses located in Decatur and the surrounding area," Riley said.
Marcinkowski said the $1.9 million will be earmarked for an early taxiway project at the airport to start later this summer -- a $2 million construction project on the southern portion of the parallel taxiway for the north/south runway.
A second $2.6 million project also will start later in the year to rehab an existing portion of the taxiway gulf off the northeast/southwest runway. It also extends off the newly constructed 4,000-foot taxiway that was completed in November.
But the bottom line, he said, is the federal grant will be great for Decatur's economy and the number of construction jobs it will bring.
"The airport has already brought in about $10 million worth of job construction to the community within the last two years," Marcinkowski said. "We see this as ongoing benefits to be able to complete the operations and safety of the airport and have an upgraded taxiway for the Farm Progress Show in 2007."
Sheila Smith can be reached at sheilas@;herald-review.com or 421-7963.