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The Board of Aldermen for the City of Memphis will meet later this week to decide the future of a million dollar expansion project for Briggs-Smith Memorial Airport.
In a special meeting on March 18th, the council received an update from engineer Bryan Gregory with JViation. He indicated a decision is need as soon as possible on the proposal to replace the existing hangar at the Memphis airport, as funding through the federal non-primary transportation entitlement program had to be utilized by September. Gregory indicated the bid deadlines had been moved up to June 1 by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), which oversees the federal block grant funding for airports.
The city is considering using all four years of the federal entitlement funding program to fund construction of 10 new hangars in a new location outside of the federal mandated runway protection zone.
The airport has received $150,000 annually in federal funding. The project would utilize the 2017 through the current year 2020 funding allotments. However the grant funds require a 10% match, leaving the city on the hook for roughly $70,000 of the allotted project, if it is approved by the council.
A separate apron expansion project is also being considered for the airport. but that project is being funded by separate federal discretionary funding that does not require a local match. Gregory indicated the city has been awarded $350,000 to fund the project that would roughly double the size of the existing parking apron while adding three new aircraft tie-down anchors. The project calls for roughly 600 tons of asphalt to create the new parking area.
Initial cost estimates were just shy of $300,000 with an additional $125,000 in engineering and construction management fees pushing the total price tag to an estimated $421,231.
Gregory noted the estimates likely were high, but if the project cost exceeded the federal grant, the additional costs could be paid with the federal entitlement funds, which would require a 10% local match.
“Worst case scenario, if the estimates are not high, under this model, the city could have to match $7,000 in local funds for the project,” Gregory told the city council.
The new hangars project was estimated at a cost of just shy of $550,000 with another $125,000 in combined engineering and construction management fees raising the total cost to an estimated $678,765.
The engineer noted that if the city council decided to move forward with both projects he believed it would create significant cost savings, eliminating the duplication in mobilization costs for contractors while also reducing the engineering and construction management fees, condensing two jobs into one.
Council members noted concerns regarding the $60,000 in funds for the local match as well as potential cost overruns that would exceed the available federal funding and would have to be paid 100% by the city.
Gregory also noted that currently the city airport will no longer qualify for the annual $150,000 in federal entitlement funds as the facility has fallen below the minimum requirement for usage. He explained the FFA has a threshold of 10 registered planes based at an airport to secure the federal aid.
On the most recent report, there were only six registered planes listed as based at the Memphis airport.
City officials indicated the belief that the report may not reflect the true number of planes and agreed to work with JViation and MoDOT in an effort to clarify that report in hopes of being reconsider for 2021 and future funding under the program.
The council is scheduled to meet Marc 25th to decide the future of the airport projects.