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State Sen. Tim Solobay, along with the region's legislative delegation, announced that Washington County Airport will receive a $686,110 state grant to fund continuing improvements.

"The economic growth fueled by natural gas drilling has created a need for expanded transportation infrastructure," Solobay said. "Washington County Airport is a critical piece of that and improvements there will help continue progress in the region."

The airport serves a wide swath of southwestern Pennsylvania that includes the districts of state Sens. Matt Smith and Rich Kasunic, along with state Reps. Brandon Neuman, Peter Daley, Jesse White, and Pam Snyder.

The grant is part of $18 million being distributed by state and federal government that will improve safety and operations at 35 Pennsylvania airports that support more than 2,600 jobs.

Washington County airport has been undertaking renovations that include removing obstructions in order to lengthen the runway. The 401-acre airport in South Franklin Township is home to more than 80 aircraft, 44 hangars and seven aviation businesses.

The state portion of funding – $904,981 from PennDOT's aviation development program – comes from the state's jet fuel tax and leverages $904,981 in local matching funds.

The program complements the new Multi-Modal Fund, created by Act 89, which dedicates $5 million to aviation in this fiscal year alone. In November, the legislature passed Act 89, a far-reaching transportation program that clears the way for significant investments in all transportation assets.

The Federal Aviation Administration is providing $17.1 million in grants through the block grant program, which is funded through taxes collected nationally on airline tickets, freight waybills, international departure fees, and the sale of aviation fuel. Airports receive up to 90 percent of eligible project costs for projects included in Pennsylvania's 12-year transportation program.

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