SARA to apply for grant to fix bump in runway

Published 2:39 am Wednesday, November 9, 2016

After much discussion, the South Alabama Regional Airport Board agreed to seek grant funding to fix a bump in the runway.

Michelle Conway of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood presented the plan to the board after it was brought to their attention that there was a bump in the runway, where the old runway and the runway extension connects.

Conway said they found that there was a bump that already existed at the end of the original runway and when the extension was constructed there wasn’t a smooth transition.

Doing her research, she found that the bump is 2.16 inches higher than it should be.

To fix it, she recommends cutting out a small section of the runway – 100 feet on each side – and taking out the bump.

The plans would re-level the runway and give it a smooth profile.

“I talked to the FAA and they are willing to fund a one-year grant at 90 percent of the project,” she said.

Those funds would be available for the FY2017 year.

“You would use your whole $150,000 entitlement for next year,” she said. “The airport’s share would be $7,500, ALDOT’s would be $7,500 and the FAA would pay $135,000.”

She told board members the bump was out of tolerance and that out of tolerance constitutes .25 inches.

Al Allenback of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood said that he is not a big advocate.

“I’ve flown in and it’s nothing,” he said. “I’m not a big advocate of this project. I don’t think it’s a big safety issue.”

Conway said that she and SARA Co-Director Misty Jones had officials with FAA and ALDOT come and look at the bump and they all agreed it wasn’t a big deal.

“We’re just giving you our recommendation,” she said.

Board member Mike Holloway said he wasn’t an advocate for large sums of money.

Board members wanted to know what it would be to just take the hump out.

Board member Donald Barton asked if they could simply lay another four inches of asphalt.

Allenback said that laying asphalt would be more expensive.

“To fix it correctly this is the proper way,” Conway said. “We’ll be more than happy to help you do it the way you want.”

The question was asked if they could just mill the area.

“You can change the strength of the runway and in the C130 runway,” she said.

Dr. Chuck Burgess asked if there was anything else the money could be applied toward.

Co-Director Jed Blackwell said they had another priority and it was runway taxi markings.

But with the bump project, they would push it back to 2018.

“Michelle did a good job convincing FAA to fund it,” he said. “We have tried to put this behind us for years. The runway markings are crucial. We can wait until 2018 or we are going to have to pay for it.”

Pilots on hand said they hadn’t really paid attention to the runway markings.

“The state has been marking off for the runway markings,” Blackwell said.

The board unanimously agreed to make pre-application for the grant.