A $975,000 project to lay an asphalt parallel taxiway at the 5,200-foot-long Joseph Airport will probably begin mid to late June and last for 90 days.

The 25 ft. wide parallel taxiway will allow aircraft to taxi back down the airstrip without slowing flight access. Currently aircraft wanting to land must wait until the aircraft which has landed before it taxis back down the runway to the hangar area.

The airport is one of 28 airports in the state owned by the Oregon Department of Aviation.

Safety is the key to the expenditure, says State Airports Manager Daren Griffin. "The sooner you get an aircraft off the runway the safer the situation becomes," he said.

The project is being funded 90 percent by the U.S. Aviation Administration and 10 percent by the Oregon Department of Aviation.

Griffin said that bids for the project will be advertised in May or early June.

The airports manager admitted that his agency has had discussions with Wallowa County over the last five years about the county assuming ownership of the airport. He added, however, "that we will continue our ownership for the forseeable future."

The current runway is 5,200 ft. long and 60 ft. wide. Griffin said that 25 ft. is a standard parallel taxiway width for an airport the size of Joseph's.

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