Pilots power up their engines at the Bend Municipal Airport, knowing they may have a bumpy ride ahead of them, even before they take off.
"It deteriorated to the point where the local aircraft operators where having to keep spare tires," Airport Manager Gary Judd said Monday afternoon, "The plane would hit the cracks hard enough to actually flatten the tire."
For the last several years, the taxiway has succumbed to weather and general use, with giant cracks stretching across the planes' path.
"It was such a rough ride that we were having corporate jets cross the runway to the new taxiway we had built last year" Judd said, adding that when it comes to "having to cross runways, the FAA doesn't like that."
Now with the help of Connect Oregon, a program founded by state lottery dollars, more money could be on the way to pay for improvements.
Connect Oregon has $40 million to hand out, and 10 percent of that could be headed for Central Oregon.
A review committee is recommending six projects on the High Desert should receive $4 million. Roughly $200,000 of that would go to repave the taxiway at the Bend Airport.
"We look to airports to provide that key link to get our products and our people to other places," said ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy. "So the benefit that we can provide at Connect Oregon can go a long way."
In a letter of support for the Bend Airport grant, Bend contractor Jack Robinson and Sons Construction said the economic impact is great.
The company was able to hire six people, who were laid off during the recession, to help complete other projects at the airport.
"The whole state comes together, it's lottery-funded, and I think it's just a wonderful use of those funds to do something positive in the community," said Judd.
The 5 other Central Oregon projects on the list include work at Roberts Field in Redmond and the Prineville and Sisters airports, as well as rail work in Madras.
A final decision on which projects will get funds is due in August.