April 12, 2007

Briggs-Smith Airport Project Delayed, But Enhanced by Added Grant Funding

Better late than never- especially if it means $140,000 more in non-primary entitlement (NPE) federal funding. Plans for major improvements at the Briggs-Smith Memorial Airport west of Memphis have been delayed several months as the City of Memphis agreed to await the 2007 grant cycle. The move will help fund additional work on the plan that was set to break ground this summer.

At the April 5th meeting, the city council reviewed additions to the project that will include a new paved taxiway and lighting improvements that will add approximately $200,000 to the $605,263 estimated cost for the project.

The city was prepared to embark on plans to undertake a $397,000 runway expansion and resurfacing project in May.

However representatives from the Missouri Department of Transportation, which is administering the federal funds via the state block grant program, recommended the city hold off on the project until the 2007 funds became available.

ďWe believe it will work fine to include the 2007 NPE funding with the current project in design for Memphis,Ē said Mark Anderson, of MoDOTís Multimodal Operations division. ďThe plans to design apron and grading, and runway pavement maintenance, will now be revised to include the paving of a new taxiway connector from the new apron to the existing runway. As well, electrical components to correctly place the new taxiway lighting with a proper regulator, etc., will also be designed.Ē

The city first received funding through the grant program in 2003 when $70,000 was awarded to the Memphis airport. A similar award was received in 2004 before the funding more than doubled to $145,000 in 2005 and 2006, a figure that is once again earmarked for the airport in 2007, bringing the available grant funding to $575,000.

Current estimates by the cityís engineering firm Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc., placed the cost for the project at $605,000, meaning the city will have to fund a little over $30,000 of the total cost. The grant requires a minimum 5-percent match of city funding.

ďThis cost estimate is based on using the exisiting airport building to house the new regulator,Ē said project manager Brian Garkie of Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc.

Garkie stated the planned regulator would pave the way for future lighting upgrades at the airport that ultimately could include pilot-controlled lighting and new frangible mounted light fixtures.

The city is reviewing using the existing ďpilotĒ house located at the airport entrance off of Highway 136. Garkie said this move would substantially decrease project costs, as otherwise a new dedicated electrical vault would have to be built.

Superintendent Roy Monroe stated that preliminary review of the proposal with Superintendent Dave Kittle had led them to believe the building would be suitable for the proposed usage.

The council was in agreement that delaying the project a few months seemed to be the wise choice, instead of having to close the airport down again next year to implement the second stage of the proposal at that time.

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