By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – After several years of planning and development, the runway at Tupelo Regional Airport has been extended.
It’s not the 1,100 feet originally envisioned, but the additional 650 feet to the north end of the runway has been in use for about two weeks.
Officials gathered Wednesday at a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony at the end of the runway, which now measures 7,100 feet.
The new runway addition itself cost $5.2 million. With engineering, design and other fees added, the final cost was $7.5 million.
Original cost estimates for the project totaled $8.1 million.
Local matching money provided by the city totaled 2.5 percent, or $187,500.
“This was a project five years in the making,” said Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson. “I’m pleased to have been a part of the project and to wrap it up.”
The Federal Aviation Administration, he noted, awarded TRA an Airport Safety Mark of Distinction Award for the project.
Among the highlights was that project contractor Century Construction moved some 25,000 truckloads of dirt without an accident.
Some 400,000 cubic yards of dirt were moved for the project.
“We moved a lot of dirt,” said Harrison Gregory, Century’s project manager.
The runway addition has of 18 inches of stone base, with 10 inches of asphalt on top of the base.
The runway extension celebration comes the same week the airport found out it was closing its air traffic control tower May 5. FAA funding for the contract employees will be stopped due to sequestration cuts.
The airport will remain open, and planes still will fly in and out of the airport, officials reiterated.