Among the 40 or so airports that received FAA Airport Improvement Program grants totaling more than $260 million this month, the $7.1 million allocated to Venice (Fla.) Airport to rehabilitate Runway 4/22 stands out. Just two years ago, the town of Venice was suing the FAA to downgrade the airport from a Class C to B facility in an effort to squeeze out jet activity, a violation of its previous grant obligations to the agency.
But after after a slate of airport-friendly candidates were elected in Venice in late 2010 and a new airport manager was installed, the lawsuits quickly ended and cooperation with the FAA began anew. In short, the AIP grant reflects the mended relationship between the town and FAA.
Runway 4/22, which is currently restricted to aircraft weighing less than 24,000 pounds and underutilized because of its poor condition, will get an $8.4 million makeover starting next month. According to airport administrator Chris Rozansky, key elements of the upgrade will include reconstructing the runway with asphalt supporting aircraft up to 80,000 pounds; partially rebuilding parallel Taxiway E; installing new LED runway and taxiway lights; increasing the displaced threshold on Runway 5 to account for a nearby bridge; and installing non-precision runway markings in preparation for future GPS approaches.
When the project is completed in January, the 5,000-foot runway will be redesignated as 5/23 due to magnetic declination.