Future ARFF Station

Pictured is an artistic rendering of the future Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Station at Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend.

NORTH BEND — A grant of $6.5 million is going to the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport.

In a Thursday morning announcement, Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-42), serving as Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said the grant is coming from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.

It will be used to fund the Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Station, the release said.

“At present, the airport’s new ARFF truck does not fit inside the existing ARFF facility and is being stored in a nearby hangar,” the release said. “This grant will support the construction of a new ARFF building that will meet eligibility requirements for vehicle bays, maintenance bays, administrative space, support rooms, personnel, and training facilities.”

The Coos County Airport District first applied for the grant back in October of 2018, according to Theresa Cook, executive director of the airport. The district had first been alerted to the opportunity by Rep. Caddy McKeown’s office.

Roughly 2,100 applications were submitted for the grant.

“When we submit a grant, we do so with the understanding that we have a good project and the chances are as good or better than most other airport projects,” Cook said in an email to The World. “But with 2,100 other airports requesting (a total of) $10.2 billion in grant funding, and only $800 million available … it was easy for us to believe our chances were minimal.”

However, the district has received strong support from federal and state representatives. Cook added that DeFazio in particular has reached out to the airport in regards to the grant.

“So I was surprised … that our local airport received this important and much needed funding for our Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Facility,” Cook said.

The grant-funded project is expected to begin the design and permitting process this fall. Construction is anticipated to start late summer of 2020 and continue for nine to 12 months before completion.

“An investment of this size in our regional airport will keep passengers and airport workers safe, while maintaining a critical economic engine in the area,” said DeFazio in the release. “It’s imperative that we keep the airport and supporting facilities in good working order to maintain access to air service, which will lead to increased economic development for the region.”

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Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.