June 17, 2009
Neal Wagner -
The Golden Triangle Regional Airport Tuesday received a "huge help" from the Federal Aviation Administration, as the national agency awarded the airport a $1.4 million grant.
The grant represents slightly more than half of the money projected to come to the airport from the FAA as part of the Airport Improvement Program during the next few weeks, according to GTRA Executive Director Mike Hainsey. He expects the airport to receive about $2.4 million total from the agency.
GTRA officials will use the initial $1.4 million to fund a nearly $1.1 million terminal expansion project at the airport. Once the 6,000-square-foot expansion is completed, the airport''s terminal will be able to seat about 150 passengers, compared to the current terminal''s 58-person seating capacity.
"Gosh, yes, this money will be a huge help for us. It basically funds that entire project," Hainsey said Tuesday. "The terminal improvement project will greatly expand the passenger waiting area, as well as several other areas of the airport."
The Columbus-based T&M Steel company last month was awarded the project, and is likely to begin work on the terminal upgrade sometime next month.
The FAA is expected to award the remaining $1 million in grant money to the airport within about a week, Hainsey explained.
Airport officials will use the additional money to design and engineer a 1,500-foot extension of GTRA''s runway. Hainsey added work on the runway extension project should begin in the spring of 2010 and cost about $10 million. Grant money also will be sought to fund this project.
Because airport officials said they anticipate having some grant money left over after funding the terminal expansion and runway engineering and design projects, they will use the remaining funds to pay off a short-term loan the airport took out in 2008 to fund a land purchase west of the airport.
"These improvements are another indicator that the Golden Triangle Regional Airport is a vital and growing part of this area''s economy," Hainsey wrote in a press release.