Airport Scores $3.6M Runway Grant

OCEAN CITY – The second phase of Ocean City municipal airport rehabilitation project got a fiscal shot in the arm this week with the announcement of $3.6 million in federal funding for the project.

Maryland’s delegation in Washington, including U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressmen Andy Harris and David Trone, on Tuesday announced over $9.2 million in federal funding for three regional airport infrastructure improvement projects including two on the Eastern Shore and one in Western Maryland. Included in the federal funding package is $3.6 million for the continued rehabilitation of Runway 1432 at the Ocean City Municipal Airport in West Ocean City.

Ocean City Airport Manager Jaime Giandomenico said the federal funding announced this week will cover the lion’s share of the second phase of the significant rehabilitation of Runway 1432, or the major east-west runway at the airport.

“This $3.6 million grant is important,” he said. “It’s for a runway rehabilitation project that has been going on in phases. It’s one project in two grant years.”

Giandomenico said the first phase of the runway improvement project was fully funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last year, largely because of COVID-related federal relief funding for infrastructure projects. The $3.6 million federal FAA grant announced this week for the second phase of the project comes with a 5% local match because most of the pandemic-related federal relief has been exhausted.

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Giandomenico said through the process, the award of the grant is announced, then it is carefully reviewed by the city manager and the city solicitor as a next step. He said the $3.6 million federal grant was never a foregone conclusion, so the town was happy to receive the news its airport would be included in the federal spending package for regional airports.

“It’s really a time-sensitive project,” Giandomenico said of the rehabilitation project. “We will have to wait until after the season to really get going on it.  We’ll start probably August 1 with what we can do, but the project won’t affect the runway until probably September 1 or so.

Giandomenico also explained the project was more complicated than, say, milling and repaving a highway, for example.

“It’s going all the way to the surface and building it back up,” he said. “It’s the primary east-west runway. There are a lot of other components like new lights, electric upgrades and drainage.”

Giandomenico pointed out the project does not include an expansion of the existing runway.

“The runway doesn’t get any longer,” he said. “It will be much improved, though, and much safer.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.