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Glacier Park International Airport, six miles northeast of Kalispell, has been awarded nearly $4 million from the Federal Aviation Administration for critical construction and maintenance needs.

The Department of Transportation, which oversees the FAA, awarded a grant for $3,986,430 on Friday.

The money will fund a full-depth reconstruction of 2,734 feet of one of the airport’s smaller runways, the 12/30 runway, as well as the partial rehabilitation of the runway’s lighting system, which has reached the end of its useful life and requires work to enhance safe operations during low visibility.

The project also calls for the removal of 65 trees to meet obstruction criteria.

David Stelling of the Department of Transportation’s regional office in Helena said the project will make the runway safer, and he hopes that it will be completed by next year.

“This is a tough one because the grant is coming in August, and paving season is almost over,” he said. “They may not finish it this year.”

Stelling said that while there is no time stipulation attached to the grant money, his office likes to see projects finished within three to four years.

His office is responsible for 99 airports, and it gives out about 68 grants per year in Montana and Idaho.

“Grants are issued to most of the larger airports every year and the smaller ones every two or three years,” he said.

The FAA has issued nearly $28 million in funding to six other Montana airports this year, most in the eastern part of the state. The money comes from aviation taxes.

“Glacier Park International Airport provides critical transportation services to the entire Flathead Valley,” U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said in a statement. “This grant will ensure the airport is able to serve the region’s growing transportation needs and provide a reliable air service for the thousands of tourists who visit Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley every year.”

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