DEXTER — Watertown International Airport has been awarded $7.2 million in federal funding for improvements to navigational aids and runways.
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, along with Congresswoman Elise M. Stefanik, announced the $7,166,481 Federal Aviation Administration funding this week provided through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The funding will be used to install miscellaneous NAVAIDS, reconstruct airfield guidance signs, reconstruct runway lighting and rehabilitate runways.
“Watertown International is vital to the connectivity and success of the regional economy, which is why as (the) North Country reopens after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that we provide the funding necessary to keep the airport safe and efficient,” Sen. Schumer said in a statement.
“As the North Country prepares to reopen, this critical funding will help the Watertown International Airport provide high-quality and safe travel for people living in and traveling to Watertown,” Sen. Gillibrand said.
“This funding is great news for our North Country airports who have taken a financial hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Stefanik said. “Improving these facilities will allow North Country residents, as well as visitors, to have enhanced travel experience at our airports.”
The money comes after the airport near Dexter received more than $1 million in CARES Act funding last month.
“This funding is important to us to keep our infrastructure maintained well into the future,” said Grant W. Sussey, airport manager. “Our runway 7/25 is in need of rehabilitation before it deteriorates further due to the normal north country climate.”
Watertown International hosts twice daily flights to Philadelphia, Pa., through American Airlines and serves to make travel more accessible for Fort Drum and its 10th Mountain Division. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the number of weekly flights out of the airport went from 13 to six at the beginning of May, although a normal slate of flight is expected to resume this coming week.