RANGELEY — The town has learned it will receive almost $11.5 million to expand the runway at Stephen A. Bean Municipal Airfield for emergency medical services.

The funding will also cover other key enhancements to support air medical transport in the rural area.

“Of course this a good thing for the Rangeley Lake’s area and town of Rangeley, and certainly northern Franklin County,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Stephen Philbrick said Thursday. “This brings a level of emergency medical services that few rural areas in the state of Maine enjoy.”

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced the funding Wednesday. The award was through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. 

Collins wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation in support of Rangeley’s request, which was co-signed by U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine.

The runway at Bean Municipal Airfield is 3,201 feet and is too short to accommodate LifeFlight of Maine’s King Air B200 plane, which is essentially equipped as a flying emergency hospital, to land and depart safely.

Residents voted 265-88 in January to move forward on the final phase of an engineering proposal to add 1,100 feet to the runway.

Of the proposed 1,100-foot extension, 690 feet would be added to the north end of the airport and 410 feet would be added at the south end.

The amazing thing is they were awarded 100 percent federal funding to cover the expansion project, interim Town Manager John Madigan said Wednesday.

The cost of the runway extension project was initially estimated at $10 million. Of that amount, 90 percent was to be paid by the Federal Aviation Administration, 5 percent by the Maine Department of Transportation and 5 percent, or $500,000, by the town. Prior to the January vote, other funding resources were being developed to share the cost of the town’s share.

“I think the town will be really pleased that we were awarded this money,” Madigan said. 

He thinks the town’s Airport Commission, Airport Manager Rebekah Carmichael, Board of Selectmen and engineering firm Dubois & King Inc. of New Hampshire and Vermont deserve a lot of thanks for their work to make this happen, he said.   

Philbrick reiterated the thanks.

“All that being said, it’s a great day in Rangeley,” Philbrick said.

Steven A. Bean Municipal Airfield, formerly known as Rangeley Airport, was constructed in 1934.

A meeting will be held in October to determine the next step.

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U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that the Town of Rangeley will receive $11,470,516 to extend the runway at Steven A. Bean Municipal Airport.  The funding, which was awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), will allow Rangeley to extend the airport’s runway and make several other key enhancements to support air medical transport in this particularly rural area of Maine.  Senator Collins wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation in support of the Town of Rangeley’s request that was co-signed by Senator Angus King and Representative Bruce Poliquin.

“Steven A. Bean Municipal Airport is a gateway to the Rangeley Lakes Region and is an important transportation option for residents, visitors, businesses, and those who need emergency medical care,” said Senator Collins.  “As the number of outdoor recreationalists traveling to Franklin County increases, this investment to expand the airport’s runway will allow Rangeley to improve access to vital medical services while also providing long-term benefits for the local economy.”

As Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins was instrumental in securing an additional $1 billion in AIP funding earlier this year prioritized for small and non-primary airports such as the Steven A. Bean Airport.

Town officials project that Rangeley will experience significant economic growth over the next two years.  Without access to air transport, a person in need of medical care must travel at least 50 minutes by rural roads to the nearest hospital. 

The Steven A. Bean Airport, formerly known as Rangeley Airport, was constructed in 1934 and serves Franklin County.

The town of Rangeley will receive $11.47 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to extend the runway at the town’s Stephen A. Bean Municipal Airfield, formerly known as Rangeley Airport. (Kyle Haley Photography)