Nearly $4 million to build a new runway at the Alexander Municipal Airport in Belen will finally be available now that Belen Airport officials have received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The FAA authorization was the last step needed before the bidding process for construction could begin.
According to Belen’s airport manager, Robert Uecker, the proposal to build a new runway was prompted for safety reasons.
“When the wind blows in from the west, the current runway becomes almost impossible to use,” he said. “Because the new runway will run parallel to the old one, we won’t have that problem anymore.”
From 2002 until 2012, a portion of gross receipts taxes was authorized to be used for maintenance and improvements to airports throughout the state. However, the authorization expired in 2012. A bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez, D-Valencia, Bernalillo, in 2012 that would have extended the authorization, died in the House on the last day of session. Sanchez successfully sponsored Senate Bill 2 (SB2) in 2013 that re-authorized the funding, thereby providing a revenue stream for necessary improvements to Belen’s airport.
“The improvements to the Belen airport will bring a much needed boost to Valencia County’s economic development. My hope is that businesses will take advantage of our airport and see that Belen truly is a ‘hub’ for their transportation needs,” Sanchez said. “I’m very excited the process to build a better runway is underway. I want my constituents and anybody else who uses this airport to safely land and take off. The improvements to Belen’s airport are necessary and I’m happy the FAA finally gave them the green light.”