By DENNIS SEID / NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The 650-foot extension of the main runway at Tupelo Regional Airport is expected to cost more than $8 million and take a little more than a year to complete.
Other airport improvement projects, along with the runway extension, will be discussed at a public hearing today at the airport as part of an environmental assessment.
Airport officials will discuss the project as well as answer questions.
“There will be a Qamp&A pertaining to the items listed on the EA,” said TRA Executive Director Josh Abramson. “There also is a downloadable form on the construction portion of our website.”
Among the questions likely to be asked is how much of the project taxpayers will have to pay.
Abramson said federal money will pay for 95 percent. The state will pay 2.5 percent, with local funding responsible for the rest.
The 2.5 percent local match funding is the only money that comes from a general fund, Abramson said. Therefore, 97.5 percent of the project’s cost will come from aviation fees such as parking, fuel taxes and passenger charges levied by the FAA at airports nationwide.
Another issue raised is the clearance that planes will have taking off and landing on the extended runway, and whether a longer runway will become a safety hazard.
“There will be less clearance,” Abramson said. “But the FAA wouldn’t allow us to extend the runway to the dangerous conditions portrayed by some. The FAA wants the safety and has rules to implement those safety standards. This extension is within those limits. The FAA doesn’t approve projects that are a safety violation.”
Also being discussed at the meeting tonight:
• Widening the existing parallel taxiway from 50 feet to 60 feet.
• Improving the runway safety area, or RSA, which is a graded, grassed overrun that will be 500 feet wide and extend 1,000 feet beyond each end of the runway.
• Installing lighting on the runway extension and the parallel taxiway extension.
• Relocating the existing PAPI, or Precision Approach Path Indicators.
• Installing a MALSAR, or Medium-intensity Approach Lighting System with Runway Alignment Indicator, lights on runway 18 – the north side of the main runway.
• Expansion of the existing terminal parking area.
While some of the items aren’t part of the extension project, Abramson said there is an environmental impact of installing a parking lot.
“There are also other items listed that will not be part of this project like installing MALSAR,” he said. “It is cost-effective to include these items in the EA for future projects and not have to do more than one.”
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.