Three area airports are in line for a welcome boost from the state of Kansas.

The Dighton/Lane County airport, Johnson/Stanton County airport and Syracuse/Hamilton County airport were among this year's recipients of Kansas Airport Improvement Program (KAIP) funding made available through the state’s T-WORKS program.

KAIP requires airport grant recipients to share in the project costs.

Dollar amounts en route to the area don’t amount to huge windfalls ($33,250 for Dighton/Lane County, $95,000 for Johnson/Stanton County and $27,000 for Syracuse/Hamilton County), but will help improve aviation operations in each locale.

That’s vital in this part of the state.

In sparsely populated, rural areas of Kansas, community airports deliver significant impact beyond serving as a handy stop for a variety of general aviation needs.

They also help those communities survive.

Smaller airports do a great deal. They accommodate transient traffic, charter flights, medical flights, crop dusters, military aircraft, corporate aircraft, flight instruction and more.

As the main street to a community, a good airport helps preserve and improve economic viability, and must be part of a plan to survive in any region suffering population losses.

The news on the KAIP assistance also was a needed reminder of the benefit of Kansas’ T-WORKS program, a 10-year, $8.2 billion comprehensive transportation plan approved in 2010.

While much of the T-WORKS focus is on highways and bridges, rail and air infrastructure also are included.

Lawmakers behind the plan knew maintenance and improvement of all transportation infrastructure would create jobs and spur economic growth.

Unfortunately, the recent diversion of dollars from those projects saw the state headed in reverse, with more than $2 billion plundered from the Kansas Department of Transportation to shore up budget shortfalls caused by Gov. Sam Brownback’s failed income tax-cut strategy.

Even as Kansas faces an ongoing budget crisis as a result, state lawmakers must do their best to preserve as many planned projects as possible.

T-WORKS was designed to maintain and improve infrastructure in a way that promises to pay off for years to come. Consider funds headed to southwest Kansas to benefit airports a prime example of prudent investment in the region’s future.