By Donna M. Perry, Staff Writer
RANGELEY — The town has learned it will receive almost $11.5 million to expand the runway at Stephen A. Bean Municipal Airfield for emergency medical services.
The funding will also cover other key enhancements to support air medical transport in the rural area.
“Of course this a good thing for the Rangeley Lake’s area and town of Rangeley, and certainly northern Franklin County,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Stephen Philbrick said Thursday. “This brings a level of emergency medical services that few rural areas in the state of Maine enjoy.”
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced the funding Wednesday. The award was through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.
Collins wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation in support of Rangeley’s request, which was co-signed by U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine.
The runway at Bean Municipal Airfield is 3,201 feet and is too short to accommodate LifeFlight of Maine’s King Air B200 plane, which is essentially equipped as a flying emergency hospital, to land and depart safely.
Residents voted 265-88 in January to move forward on the final phase of an engineering proposal to add 1,100 feet to the runway.
Of the proposed 1,100-foot extension, 690 feet would be added to the north end of the airport and 410 feet would be added at the south end.
The amazing thing is they were awarded 100 percent federal funding to cover the expansion project, interim Town Manager John Madigan said Wednesday.
The cost of the runway extension project was initially estimated at $10 million. Of that amount, 90 percent was to be paid by the Federal Aviation Administration, 5 percent by the Maine Department of Transportation and 5 percent, or $500,000, by the town. Prior to the January vote, other funding resources were being developed to share the cost of the town’s share.
“I think the town will be really pleased that we were awarded this money,” Madigan said.
He thinks the town’s Airport Commission, Airport Manager Rebekah Carmichael, Board of Selectmen and engineering firm Dubois & King Inc. of New Hampshire and Vermont deserve a lot of thanks for their work to make this happen, he said.
Philbrick reiterated the thanks.
“All that being said, it’s a great day in Rangeley,” Philbrick said.
Steven A. Bean Municipal Airfield, formerly known as Rangeley Airport, was constructed in 1934.
A meeting will be held in October to determine the next step.