Tupelo Runway extension gets expected OK

TUPELO – Already in the design phase, the runway extension project at Tupelo Regional Airport has received an official green light.
The Federal Aviation Administration has released a “Finding of No Significant Impact,” or FONSI, report, declaring that it had found no major environmental or other problems with the project.
The 650-foot extension to the north end of the runway, however, is at least 18 months from completion.
Still, airport Executive Director Josh Abramson said the report is “a validation of our efforts in completing the runway extension, taking into account the community’s concerns and input.”
The report had been expected by airport officials.
The $8.15 million project is in the midst of the design phase, which is being handled by engineering firm Neel-Schaffer. The company also will handle the construction phase, which could begin later this year.
The design process costs $455,000, but Neel-Schaffer has applied for a grant to cover the cost.
Abramson said that the airport is not paying the company for the design work.
In the agreement that the Tupelo Airport Authority reached with Neel-Schaffer, the company agreed to do the work contingent on its application for the grant.
“So they’re taking on that risk,” Abramson said.
Once the design phase is finished, the airport hopes to get construction bids in the fall, with construction starting soon after. The work could take up to 18 months, Abramson said.
The FONSI report said the proposed improvements are needed to bring the airport into compliance with current FAA standards, to enhance safety and to expand its operational capabilities.
In addition to extending the runway to 7,153 feet, the project includes:
– Widening the parallel taxiway from 50 feet to 60 feet and extending it in conjunction with the extension.
– Improving the Runway Safety Area.
– Installing lighting on the runway and taxiway extension.
– Relocating the runway precision approach path indicators – light arrays beside the runways.
– Installing a medium-intensity approach lighting system with runway indicator lights.
– Expanding existing terminal parking.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

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