Socorro Municipal Airport is set to receive $150,000 as part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s $3.18 billion airport infrastructure package. Ninety percent of the projects will be federally funded; the remainder will come from state and local government dollars.
Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval said NMDOT’s Aviation Division works closely with the FAA to ensure New Mexico airports continue to provide a safe and efficient infrastructure.
“The improvement projects largely supported by this funding will increase the state’s safety, emergency response capabilities and could support further economic growth and development within each airport’s region,” Sandoval said.
Socorro’s Airport Manager Jay Santillanes said the money will be used to purchase a sweeper for the runways.
“It’s basically a street sweeper,” Santillanes said. “We’ve been working on getting one the last several years. It’s mainly to make sure the runways are clear of dirt and gravel. Because this is federal money we can only use it for the airport.”
The airport has two runways, 15-33 and 6-24; one north-south and the other east-west. At the time, there was no funding for a taxiway for the east-west runway, known as the crosswind runway.
“The planes using that have to turn around at the end of the runway, and taxi back along the runway,” he said. “If a place is taxiing back on the same runway and another plane is sitting on the runway, they would be delayed in landing. That’s not a normal occurrence, and most of the time they’ll do a fly-over first to make sure it’s clear.”
That situation will change after next year.
“Last year we were notified that we were programmed to receive $2.1 million to construct the parallel taxiway for that runway,” Santillanes said. “We’ve been working on environmental clearances and engineering, and the next step is the design. We expect to begin construction sometime late next year.”
Santillanes said the project will greatly enhance the airport’s safety level for planes landing and taking off.
“The FAA has been really good to us,” he said.
Mayor Ravi Bhasker believes these improvements will help increase the airports business.
“We get a lot of private planes and small jets landing here, especially during hunting season,” Bhasker said.
As time goes by, he said, “hopefully many will start to avoid a busy airport like Albuquerque and land down here.”
Other plans for the airport include a new building for electronics.