By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The engineering firm Neel-Schaffer, already handling the design phase of the 650-foot runway extension at Tupelo Regional Airport, also will handle the construction phase of the project.
The Tupelo Airport Authority approved the move Friday.
The extension to the north end of the runway is expected to cost $8.15 million, based on a Neel-Schaffer study conducted last year.
Ken Gilbert, an engineer with the firm, said a recent meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta “went well.”
Gilbert also worked with Tupelo Regional in its last extension project in 1991, when the runway was lengthened to its current 6,500 feet. He also was involved with the airport’s runway widening project in 2008.
The airport hopes to get construction bids by September, with construction starting in late fall or early winter – assuming funding is secured for the project.
“Best-case scenario, we start construction in October,” Gilbert said.
Completion of the runway would take several months and depend on the weather.
Officials earlier had projected completion in late spring or summer 2012 if construction began in August.