September 2, 2004

Briggs-Smith Memorial Airport Receives Funds

Briggs-Smith Memorial Airport in Memphis was among 68 municipal airports in Missouri named to receive more than $9.8 million in federal funds to upgrade their facilities.

Missouri Department of Transportation officials announced the grants August 26. The local airport will receive $70,000, the same amount it received in September of 2003 through the federal program.

Most of the airports will receive grants totaling $150,000 to use for planning, design, land acquisition, maintenance and construction projects.

“This is vital funding for the state’s airports, and we’re pleased Missouri is a recipient of this federal money once again,” said Dave Snider, MoDOT’s interim director. “When we invest in our airports, we enhance our state’s transportation system, and we contribute to the economic development of our communities.”

Airport committee member H. Middleton stated Briggs-Smith Memorial Airport is in line to receive a third installment on the grant in 2005.

The airport committee is working in conjunction with the Memphis City Council to establish plans for the use of the funding. If another $70,000 grant were approved next year, Middleton stated the airport would have more options for improving the airport.

Middleton said the committee has considered a number of options for the funding including paving the airport’s taxi-way. He noted that state officials had recommended installing a taxi-way that ran the entire length of the runway, but pointed out that this could be too costly for the grant funds available.

Other options include paving the airport parking area where large planes are kept while the pilot and/or passengers are away from the plane.

Additional lighting for the runway is one further option. Middleton stated the committee had considered precision approach path indicator (PAPI) lights that provide the pilot with a safe and accurate glide slope on final approach to the runway. A row of PAPI light housing assemblies (LHA’s) placed perpendicular to the approach path are seen by the pilot in combinations of red and white to indicate a path that is too high, too low or correctly on slope.

A number of airports will use the funds to make their facilities more secure, a continuing goal for many aviation facilities since September 11.

“We work with the local airports to select projects that have the greatest benefit to Missouri’s aviation infrastructure,” said Joe Pestka, MoDOT’s aviation director. “Many of these projects would not be possible without this federal assistance.”

The funds, available through the federal non-primary airport entitlement program, come from user fees on airline tickets and the sale of aviation fuels.

Missouri is one of nine states that administers the federal aviation funding to the airports under the State Block Grant Program. Since entering the program in 1989, including this grant award, MoDOT will administer more than $176 million in federal aviation funding.

In addition to administering state and federal funds, MoDOT’s aviation unit is responsible for airport safety inspections, maintaining a state airport system plan, monitoring airport traffic counts and promoting aviation education.

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