By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – In April, the City Council agreed to fund $500,000 to improve a taxiway and the old runway at Tupelo Regional Airport.
That deal was contingent upon the airport receiving a $500,000 multimodal grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
On Tuesday, at a work session of the council, Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson said the grant was approved.
The state-funded grants allow airports, public transit, railroads and ports to invest in infrastructure, equipment, vehicles and engineering costs for planned development. Grants are provided based on a formula including operational and economic impact and available funding.
MDOT last year funded 19 different airport projects statewide with $3.4 million.
The grant, along with the city money, will be used to build a new taxiway at the airport that will accommodate the large planes like the Boeing 747. Airport tenant Universal Asset Management disassembles those and other retired aircraft at its facility at the airport.
Airport officials say the taxiway also will benefit other airport tenants, but UAM is clearly the biggest user of the taxiway, which has continued to crumble from the weight of the planes.
Last fall, the council rejected a $1.2 million capital project request from the airport, which sought to do similar repairs. It balked at the request, saying UAM should have to pay for half of the work.
UAM, which has about 85 employees, said the taxiway work was part of the city’s responsibility, and that it was part of lease negotiations more than three years ago.