April 20, 2006

City Council Approves $175,000 Airport-Improvement Project

Briggs-Smith Memorial Airport will be the site of construction work later this summer or early in the fall if all goes well. At a special meeting April 17th, the Memphis City Council gave preliminary approved to representatives of Crawford, Murphy and Tilly consulting firm to begin engineering work for a project that will repair damaged portions of the airport runway, rebuild the entrance road and the fuel access taxiway.

Preliminary estimates place the project cost at $177,471, of which 95 percent will come from federal aviation funding being administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation through the state block grant program.

The city received its initial installment of $70,000 back in 2003. A similar payment in 2004 was added to the projects fund for the airport as the city and the airport committee agreed to bank the grant money to accumulate significant enough funding to proceed with such an important project.

Council members got a pleasant surprise when the consultants informed the city it had received $145,000 in both 2005 and 2006 bringing the grant fund total to $430,000. With a five-percent match of $22,631 the airport project fund is at $452,631.

Dave Davidson of the Northeast Regional Planning Commission indicated the first years funding received in 2003 is set to expire at the end of 2006, meaning the city must put the funding to use or risk losing the initial $70,000 grant.

With that in mind, the council discussed six different proposals created by Crawford, Murphy and Tilly. The proposals ranged from a$58,000 plan to relocate the airport fuel facility to a $867,495 design for expanding the airport apron and constructing a t-hangar taxiway.

Airport committee chairman H. Middleton spoke on behalf of the proposal to repair the runway and rebuild the taxiway.

Repairing the runway is our first priority, he stated. In my opinion that is the project we need to undertake first.

Street superintendent Roy Monroe agreed with Middletons assessment. As supervisor of the airport, Monroe handles the regular safety inspections of the airport with MoDOT officials.

Those are the two things that MoDOT is after us to do fix the runway and change the fuel access taxiway, he said. At the last inspection those were issues they were most critical about.

Alderman Brian Brush told the council he had accompanied Middleton after the latest airport committee meeting to inspect the runway and agreed with the pilots assessment of safety issues being created by the longitudinal cracks in the concrete.

Middleton also asked the council to consider expanding the northwest end of the runway to allow two planes to pass each other when entering and exiting the runway. A few other minor adjustments were added to the proposal, which was unanimously approved by the council to enter the design phase with the engineers at the consulting firm.

The proposal will still leave approximately $250,000 in funding for future improvements at Briggs-Smith.

Middleton recommended the second priority on the project list would be relocating the fuel facility and relocating and constructing a new eight unit T-hangar. Preliminary estimates for the project have established a projected cost of roughly $340,000, leaving the city hoping it can earn additional federal aviation funding in 2007.

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