By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Construction on the 650-foot runway extension at the Tupelo Regional Airport could begin in October, but may start as late as January.
The Federal Aviation Administration is still working on its design to move the localizer – an airplane guidance system used at airports – at Tupelo Regional that must be moved twice to accommodate the extension.
There’s also the matter of congressional reauthorization of the FAA. A bill has been extended 20 times since 2007, and the latest extension expires on July 22. If not reauthorized, the FAA will not be able to, among other things, dole out funds to airport projects across the country.
Nevertheless, the Tupelo Airport Authority is forging ahead with the extension project that’s expected to cost around $8.2 million. The project has received a $544,000 grant for the design phase and a second grant of about $5.2 million is anticipated for the construction phase.
The project will extend the runway from 6,500 feet to 7,150 feet.
Bids for the construction phase of the project will be opened at 10 a.m. Aug. 16.
Allen Thames, senior aviation planner for the engineering firm Neel-Schaffer, told the airport board earlier this week that the FAA must receive grant applications the week of Aug. 15.
Requests for bids will be advertised starting next week, Thames said.
After the bids are opened on Aug. 16, the airport board will vote on which bid to accept at its monthly meeting that same day.
Then, the application will be sent to the FAA the next day. Assuming the FAA approves the application, the grant must then be approved by the Tupelo City Council.
The city also will have to match the federal grant with about $200,000.
And while the two grants don’t equal the complete cost of the project, Thames said a grant application will be made during the next fiscal year to pay for the rest of it.
Current length: 6,500 feet
Projected length: 7,150 feet
Expected cost: $8.2 million