Legislature Approves Request to Apply for Aurora State Airport Runway Extension Funding

After months of contentious debate, the legislative resolution to the request to apply for grant funding to extend the runway of the Aurora State Airport was remarkably brief. The Oregon Legislature Joint Emergency Board’s hearing on the matter Friday lasted barely 60 seconds.

Here’s House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney.

In a longer subcommittee hearing the previous day, Oregon Department of Aviation Interim Director Martha Meeker said that the state’s approval would be only the start of a long process, one that would involve ample opportunity for public involvement.

It also requires the FAA to approve the state’s request for $37 million in grant funding, which is no sure thing. Ben Williams, president of Friends of French Prairie, opposes the runway extension.

He says Oregon Solutions, which was hired to take stock of the different stakeholders and points of view involved in the process, wrote an excellent and very detailed report of the issues and possible ways forward. The problem, he claims, was that the Legislature didn’t pay any attention to it.

If funding is approved, the project would add an additional 1,000 feet to the runway of the Aurora State Airport. Only two airports in the state are busier than Aurora — Portland International and Portland/Hillsboro — but 30 airports have longer runways.

Proponents say the extension would make the airport safer and appeal to companies that may be interested in locating or expanding in the area. Opponents say it would mean larger aircraft and more of them, impacting the environment and surrounding farmland and disrupting residents’ quiet way of life.

The runway extension is opposed by Aurora’s newly elected mayor, Kris Sallee, and many of the residents in the immediate area. Canby Mayor Brian Hodson, however, supports the project, along with the Canby business community.

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