PEORIA — Peoria's airport has received $1.5 million from the federal Department of Transportation as part of the final phase of rehabilitation on the facility's parking apron for planes.

The grant, announced Thursday, is described as the final phase of work in a news release from U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, whose district splits the airport with that of U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria.

The total project at Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport will cost about $10 million, airport director Gene Olson said, and this is the third phase of the funding. Some 90 percent of the funds were slated to come from the federal government, with 5 percent each coming from the state and the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria.

The funds announced Thursday will help rehabilitate nearly 31,000 square yards of the terminal apron pavement that is at the end of its useful life. The work covers areas from about Gate 5 to beyond Gate 14, Olson said.

"We're very happy to receive the grant. It allows us to complete a critical piece of rehabilitation on the airfield," Olson said in a phone interview.

The existing area had been experiencing problems with pavement cracking and loose pebbles, and damage from the latter had occasionally occurred to aircraft.

The cost is so high, Olson said, because the area has to be designed to regularly hold planes that can weigh in excess of 130,000 pounds, with all that weight resting on just a few wheels. Because of that, the pavement is laid to be between 16 and 18 inches deep, with an additional 16 inches of rock beneath that.

“Peoria’s airport is not only a vital transportation hub, but a major economic driver in Central Illinois,” Bustos said in a prepared statement. “Continued investments in our airports are essential in bringing new economic opportunities to our region, which is why I’m proud to help announce federal funding for Peoria’s International Airport. Sens. [Dick] Durbin, [Tammy] Duckworth and I will continue to fight for more job-creating federal dollars in our community.”

Chris Kaergard can be reached at ckaergard@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.