Now that more sunshine and warmer weather are in the offing for the next six months, expect to see an increase in airport infrastructure projects across the state, thanks in large part to $3.4 million in capital improvement grants recently approved by the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.
The airport projects are included in the Commission’s three-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) approved earlier this year. The CIP is designed to help Oklahoma communities fund various infrastructure projects at their local airports. Runway and taxiway construction or rehabilitation, airfield signage purchases and navigation equipment upgrades are just some of the projects eligible to receive CIP grants.
“Oklahoma’s 5.4 percent unemployment rate– one of the lowest in the nation – would not be possible if it were not for the many businesses that use the state’s GA airports to transact business on a regular basis. Our airports help drive Oklahoma’s economy. And, not so coincidentally, those businesses are responsible for employing thousands of Oklahomans across the state,” Director of Aeronautics Victor N. Bird said. “Companies such as Michelin in Ardmore and ConocoPhillips in Bartlesville, both of whom employ about 2,000 Oklahomans, along with Love’s Country Stores in Oklahoma City (Wiley Post Airport) that employs around 1,500, have said that the airport, and the fact they can fly directly to these cities, is a major reason they are located in those cities.”
The City of Ada is the recipient of the largest CIP grant of $500,000 to fund the construction of a new, $1.3 million terminal building at Ada Municipal Airport. As part of the city’s acceptance of the grant, it has agreed to provide $500,000 in matching funds, along with nearly $300,000 in additional local funds to completely finance this project.
“This is truly a team effort starting with the Commission with additional support through the Chickasaw Nation, the City of Ada and the Ada Jobs Foundation. We feel good about the bids we have received and we are ready to take this project to the next level in order to make Ada a sustainable regional business airport,” Ada City Manager Cody Holcomb told commissioners.
Holcomb said the airport’s current terminal building is 64 years old and is showing signs of deterioration that comes with a facility that old. He said the new terminal will be approximately 4,500 square feet and will feature amenities typical for modern general aviation terminal buildings, such as a public reception area; a pilot flight-planning and weather-briefing area; pilots lounge; men’s and women’s restrooms; an airport manager’s office; a training/conference room available for public use; and a kitchen area for serving food. He expects construction to begin sometime this summer.
The Ada terminal will be the fourth airport terminal building the Commission has helped fund since 2010 following the Commission’s decision to include terminal construction or renovation in its CIP. Under current policy, the Commission will pay for half of the construction costs subject to a maximum of $500,000. The sponsoring city or town would be responsible for the remaining half. Other airport terminal buildings the Commission has helped fund include those located in Durant, Shawnee, and most recently, Muskogee.
In addition to the Ada terminal grant, the Commission also gave its approval for agency staff to enter into intergovernmental agreements that will allow them to act as the agent for several runway projects around the state. This would entail developing any necessary reports or initial designs and contracting all the necessary services through the state’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Communities welcome these agreements since many do not have the expertise or the manpower to guide those runway projects from start to finish.
One of those projects involves a $370,000 runway rehabilitation at Grandfield Municipal Airport. According to the agreement – though the Commission will front the entire cost of the project – the city will reimburse the Commission 100 percent of the project costs from a federal grant.
Other projects scheduled to be begin soon under the intergovernmental agreements are a $330,000 runway rehabilitation at Anadarko Municipal Airport; a $260,000 runway project at Oklahoma City’s Wiley Post Airport; and various runway projects totaling $2.5 million as part of the Commission’s Routine Airport Maintenance Program (RAMP) for airports in Duncan, Pauls Valley, Weatherford, Elk City and Guthrie.
Similar to the Grandfield project, the Commission will act as agent for all of the aforementioned RAMP projects and contract all of the necessary services to get the projects completed. Unlike Grandfield, however, the Commission will fund 95 percent of the project costs, with the individual cities kicking in the remaining five percent in each case.
The Commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for May 8 at the Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport when commissioners will consider awarding additional CIP grants to other airports around the state.