By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The proposed 650-foot runway extension at Tupelo Regional Airport could be finished by summer 2012 if everything falls in place.
Ken Gilbert of the engineering firm Neel-Schaffer told the Tupelo Airport Authority that “we’re progressing well” with the design phase of the project.
Gilbert, who also worked with the airport when it extended its runway to its current 6,500 feet in 1991, as well as its widening to 150 feet in 2008, said the next step is to get a more detailed survey of the airport’s perimeter and to do more geotechnical work.
“We’ve got to determine what materials we have in the area and if its strong enough to support the runway extension,” he said.
The extension to the north end of the runway is expected to cost an estimated $8.15 million, based on a Neel-Schaffer study conducted last year.
Gilbert said the survey and geotechnical work is about 25 percent complete and the information should be sent to the Federal Aviation Administration in the next 60 days for review.
After the design phase – assuming all the necessary approvals are given – the project will be put out for bid. Construction then begins after that, assuming funding is in place for it.
Asked by Tupelo Airport Authority when construction might start, Gilbert said “late summer, in August.”
The extension could then be completed by late spring or summer.
Boardings rise again
In other airport-related news, passenger boardings at Tupelo Regional in January rose 17 percent to 868, compared to 739 a year earlier.
January’s increase was the seventh straight increase, dating back to July.
However, for all of 2010, boardings at Tupelo Regional were 12,003, an 8.3 percent decline from 2009.