By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – How far Tupelo Regional Airport’s runway can be extended – and how much it might cost – should be known within 90 days.
On Monday, the Tupelo Airport Authority gave the go-ahead for engineering firm Neel-Schaffer to begin a runway extension study.
Senior aviation planner Allen Thames said with the OK, he’ll notify the Federal Aviation Administration of the study. He doesn’t expect any delays.
“We should hear from the FAA within two weeks, then we’ll begin the work,” he said.
The airport has FAA approval to extend the runway from its current 6,500 feet to 7,500 feet.
Airport officials have lobbied for several years to extend the runway in order to accommodate larger planes and larger fuel loads. Doing so could attract cargo companies, as well as provide better commercial air service, they say.
Neel-Schaffer is looking at two options to do that:
n Adding on to the south and north ends of the runway;
n Adding on only to the north end of the runway and finding an acceptable east-west connector.
In either case, West Jackson Road Extended, which runs north of the airport, will not be closed. Its fate has been a sticking point with some residents, businesses and city leaders who feared the east-west road would be affected by a runway extension.
“We want to get as much runway as we can,” said authority Chairman Dan Kellum, “but we want to do it with as little disruption of traffic as possible.”
The study, estimated to cost about $60,000, is divided into five phases. The information and findings will be shared with the city and airport authority. Preliminary costs for the extension options also will be provided.
“We will not make any recommendations, only presenting our findings,” Thames said. “Then hopefully we can come to a logical conclusion.”
Thames added that he hopes engineering and design work for the project can be done this year. However, actual construction wouldn’t begin until at least next year.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.