U.S. Sen. Tom Carper joined airport and Sussex County representatives July 12 on the tarmac at Delaware Coastal Airport to announce the airport has received two Federal Aviation Administration grants. Improvements to the county-owned airport’s lighting and approaches, and continued work to lengthen its runway are among major projects over the past few years.
Not far from where officials stood, work is underway to rebuild a taxiway for better access to the crosswind runway.
The FAA provided the airport with grants of $150,000 for general airport operations, and more than $500,000 to update the airport’s master plan, which includes extending the current 5,500-foot main runway to 6,000 feet. The extension will allow larger planes to land at the airport.
Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson said the airport is inching closer to the number of required benchmark flights for a higher threshold of FAA funding. “We are seeing more and more flights from all over the country and world,” he said.
Airport Manager Jim Hickin said a new 20-year master plan will allow county officials to develop the airport in a reasonable and methodical way. He said the plan will address everything from runway expansion to future tenants to drones.
Carper, a Democrat, said the FAA has invested more than $40 million over the past decade for airport improvements.
“Between the flight activities and industrial park tenants, the airport is the centerpiece for thousands of good jobs here in Sussex County,” he said. “The rebranding program and other investments have resulted in expansions and new business to the region, and this next FAA investment will keep the momentum at the airport going. I’m looking forward to seeing the full construction project and runway extension over the finish line.”