An El Paso County airport has received $538,176 from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., announced that five Colorado airports are getting federal grants through the Airport Improvement Program. Meadow Lake Airport, in Falcon, received the second-highest grant, behind Front Range Airport in Adams County, which received $1.5 million.

The federal program helps improve local airports’ infrastructure such as taxiways, signage, lighting and marking. For Meadow Lake, the money will be used to repave the decrepit asphalt, airport board President Dave Elliott said.

That will provide pilots with “a good surface to take off and land on,” Elliott said.

The pavement project will cost the airport more than $3 million, and it has received a $2.2 million state grant. The added funds will help keep the project on track, said Elliott, a retired military pilot. “We’ve been saving our pennies and nickels for the past couple of years.”

The runways are more than 29 years old, and the Federal Aviation Administration recommends that airport runways be redone every 15 to 20 years. And the runways’ age shows, Elliott said. “The asphalt has become very loose.”

During construction, which begins in July, the airport’s main runway will be closed, and operations will be limited to the small runway for 2½ months. That could be a problem for the state’s larger airports.

Meadow Lake is a “reliever airport,” a home base for 450 smaller aircraft and jets, that sees 65,000 to 75,000 takeoffs and landings a year, Elliott said.

With the closure looming, the Colorado Springs Airport and some surrounding airports could see more independently owned planes landing and taking off.

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