The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission recently finalized its statewide airport Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for fiscal years 2016 through 2018 which will result in increased construction activities for the next three years at two dozen Oklahoma public airports. Under the program, $68 million in improvements are planned at airports across the state.
“Ensuring that Oklahoma public airports provide the flying public with top-notch runways, safe taxiways and accommodating terminals is our top priority,” said Vic Bird, director of the Aeronautics Commission. “This CIP ensures that our airports are among the safest and most efficient in the country, and that they are meeting the needs of commerce and communities across the state.”
Funding for the CIP will come from three sources: the Federal Aviation Administration will provide $48 million through the Airport Improvement Program, the Aeronautics Commission will provide $11 million and the airport sponsors (cities) will provide $9 million.
Major projects are planned at several airports, including Oklahoma City’s Wiley Post Airport, Tulsa’s R.L. Jones-Riverside Airport, Durant’s Eaker Field, Lawton-Ft. Sill Regional Airport, Bristow’s Jones Memorial Airport, Stillwater Regional Airport and Claremore Regional Airport.
The largest recipient is Wiley Post Airport located in northwest Oklahoma City, which has 455 based aircraft, including 92 business jets. It will receive $8.1 million in federal, state and local matching funds that will be used to rehabilitate the airport’s primary runway and upgrade signage, runway lights and other navigational aids. In addition, the airport will have its taxiways rehabilitated and drainage improved.
“With the support of the FAA and Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, these pavement, signage, and lighting projects at Wiley Post Airport essentially overhaul the airport’s entire airside infrastructure, which will in turn benefit the airport and the community for years to come,” said Mark Kranenburg, airports director for the City of Oklahoma City.
R.L. Jones-Riverside Airport in Tulsa will use $4.7 million in federal, state and local matching funds to rehabilitate and upgrade its runways, as well as upgrade airfield signage in order to meet current FAA standards. With 520 based aircraft, R.L. Jones is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the nation.
“Jones-Riverside has a level of both business and general aviation that is significant not only to Tulsa but to the state,” said Jeff Mulder, director of the Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust and current chairman of the American Association of Airport Executives. “We appreciate the support expressed from the Aeronautics Commission through the inclusion of this project in its CIP.”
Extending the runway and parallel taxiway is one of several projects on tap at Durant’s Eaker Field. When completed, the runway could be extended up to 6,800 feet with an estimated cost of $2.6 million.
City officials said the airport has seen a rise in jet traffic over the last several years that can be attributed to several factors, including more vendors doing business with the Choctaw Nation headquarters in Durant, the popularity of nearby Choctaw Casino Resort and additional business moving into Durant.
Officials pointed to the number of large and mid-size corporate jets that currently fly out of Eaker Field to either coast that must limit the amount of fuel and passengers on board due to weight concerns from taking off on the airport’s 5,000-foot runway. As a result, the jets will typically need to make another refueling stop on the way to their next destinations.
“We simply do not have enough runway length to accommodate these corporate jets,” said Jerry Yandell, director of technical projects for the City of Durant. “We’re home base to the Choctaw Nation and we also have Big Lots and Cardinal Glass that need additional runway length. A lot of times, they have to use Ardmore to get in and get out.”
Rarely does the Commission invest money in a commercial airport, but it will invest $500,000 in a new $3.5 million terminal partnering with the City of Lawton at Lawton-Ft. Sill Regional Airport. “We’ve needed a new terminal now for quite a while,” said Airport Manager Barbara NcNally, who said the current terminal was built in 1950.
Other major projects scheduled to receive funding through the CIP include a $4.4 million project to construct a new runway at Jones Memorial Airport in Bristow, $3.8 million to reconstruct and align the existing taxiway and connecting taxiway to the primary runway at Stillwater Regional Airport, $2.8 million to improve the runway, parallel taxiway and apron at Claremore Regional Airport, and $2.3 million to improve the runway and taxiway at Mid-America Industrial Airport located near Pryor.
Through its CIP, the Commission determines the airport projects that will be constructed at the 107 general aviation airports that are part of the Oklahoma Airport System and how they will be funded. Projects are prioritized based upon safety, preservation, standards and capacity.
Federal grants typically require 10 percent in matching funds from the airport sponsor; however, for projects identified in the CIP, the Commission makes half the federal match. State grants require five percent matching funds.
To see the entire list of projects included in the FY2016-2018 CIP, please visit the Airport Development page on the Commission’s website at www.aeronautics.ok.gov.