CARIBOU, Maine — Close to $1.9 million in federal grant money is coming to the Caribou Municipal Airport for runway rehabilitation, according to a joint release by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King on Friday.

The $1,894,695 grant is through the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to Collins and King.

“The runways are meeting the end of their lifecycle,” Austin Blees, Caribou city manager and airport manager, said Friday afternoon. “We applied for the grant through the [Federal Aviation Administration] and will use those funds to improve those runways as part of airport operations and our master plan.”

The municipal airport sits on 200 acres on the north end of Caribou, not far from Cary Medical Center. The facility has two paved runways open for general aviation.

“We have a lot of medical flights coming in and out,” Blees said. “There is also a lot of private air traffic.”

The airport is designated as an “airport of entry” by the U.S. Customs Service due to its proximity to the Canadian border.

Blees said he is unsure when work will begin or what impact the planned construction will have on airport operations.

“That will be up to the contractor and his needs,” Blees said.

Soderberg Construction of Caribou was the low bidder on the project and Blees said a pre-construction meeting is planned for next week.

“Caribou Municipal Airport supports the region’s economy and also serves as a vital link for emergency patients from Cary Medical Center and northern Maine hospitals to hospitals in southern Maine and Massachusetts,” Collins and King said in their joint release. “This funding will help make necessary improvements and maintain a safe operational environment at the airport.”

Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.