City to pay for taxiway repairs at Tupelo Regional Airport

Tupelo Airport Authority member Rocky Miskelly, right, looks at the condition of the old runway. With him are airport Executive Director Josh Abramson, left; board chairman Ty Robinson, second from left, and board attorney John Hill. (Dennis Seid)

Tupelo Airport Authority
member Rocky Miskelly, right, looks at the condition of the old runway. With him are airport Executive Director Josh Abramson, left;
board chairman Ty Robinson, second from
left, and board attorney John Hill. (Dennis Seid)

By DENNIS SEID
Daily Journal

TUPELO – In a unanimous vote Thursday, the City Council approved up to $107,675 in emergency repairs to a portion of the old runway at the Tupelo Regional Airport.

A 200-by-50-foot section of the taxiway will be replaced with 12 inches of reinforced concrete.

The request came from the airport’s executive director, Josh Abramson, on behalf of the Tupelo Airport Authority.

Knight Bros. Construction of Corinth had the low bid with $89,675. The additional $18,000 is being held in reserve in case the material below the pavement is not up to specifications.

“But if we don’t use it, we won’t ask for it,” Abramson told the council.

The money will come from part of the city’s capital budget reserved for unforeseen events.

The authority voted Wednesday to declare that the crumbling, pock-marked taxiway was in need of immediate repair, and to ask the council Thursday to fund the repair.

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton and the city’s chief operating officer, Darrell Smith, recently took two engineering firms to inspect the taxiway. They determined a repair could be made for far less than the $700,000 to $1.2 million projected cost.

However, the approved repair isn’t as extensive as previously discussed repairs.

The more expensive repairs would have included a larger portion of the old runway and taxiway.

But, said Abramson, “this is an immediate fix. … it addresses safety and airport operations used by three tenants.”

The taxiway is used by Universal Asset Management, which disassembles and recycles retired aircraft; Webb’s Agricultural Flying Service and AMS, which sells fuel at the airport.

UAM said the deteriorating condition of the taxiway made it difficult to land more aircraft like the Boeing 747.

Shelton said the significantly less figure approved by the City Council should cover repairs needed to satisfy the airport’s contract agreement with UAM.

“We decided to go with an approach in addressing absolute necessities versus what would essentially be a capital improvement project,” Shelton said. “We thought this was a better solution.”

While the repair and its funding was approved, the plan must still be presented to UAM, Webb and AMS.

UAM did not immediately return a call for comment on Thursday.

Knight Bros. said it can complete the work in 12 days.

“I’d like to start next week, if possible,” Abramson said.

Staff writer Robbie Ward contributed to this story. dennis.seid@journalinc.com