The Smithville Municipal Airport is closed for up to two weeks while an apron expansion and runway overlay (resurfacing) project is in progress.
Highways Incorporated was recently awarded the bid to do the work by the mayor and board of aldermen. In addition to the resurfacing, the project includes design and construction of new infrastructure for the PAPI (runway) lights. The cost is $1,633,738.
Last year, the city was approved for a $1.5 million grant to do the runway overlay and apron expansion. State grant funding totaled $1,350,000 and the local matching obligation was $150,000. The grant approved for the design and construction of the PAPI infrastructure was for $96,300. The city's portion was $4,815. Since the grant for overlay did not cover the cost of the paving project, the city applied and was approved for up to $190,000 in additional grant funds with a 5% local match. The grants were made available through the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division.
"We're having the runway resurfaced and we are expanding the ramp and our parking area at the airport," said Airport Manager Wes Nokes. "We're also repairing a spot of existing asphalt that has deteriorated probably due to an underground spring. The design for all that, the engineering portion of it, we got a grant for that and then we got a separate grant for the actual construction, the asphalt for the runway, the asphalt for the apron extension and to repair the older asphalt," said Nokes.
"Another grant is for our PAPI lights, which are lights at the end of the runway that let the pilots know if they are on the right guide slope and if they are too high or too low coming in for approach for landing," said Nokes. "The wiring that supplies the electricity for these lights is extremely old. It was probably put in during the early 1970s. It's now dilapidated and corroded. This grant will replace all that wiring from the main hangar building out to each end of the runway, "he said.
The airport will also have a new fuel farm soon, offering jet fuel for the first time. "We currently do not sell jet fuel at the airport so this will be a huge increase in traffic and revenue for us as we have not been able to provide that service before. But after this, we will. Even some of our current customers, businesses, and factories in the area that have corporate aircraft, when they come in they have no way of refueling here. They have to go somewhere else for fuel before they come in or after they leave so it will be a huge convenience factor for them and help us on the revenue aspect of it as well," said Nokes. "The fuel farm construction hinges on the construction of the runway and the new part of the apron as the new fuel farm will be moved down to the end of the new apron expansion. There will be two above ground tanks. They will be twelve thousand gallon tanks. They will be operated on a self serve basis twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. They will be accessible by a debit or credit card," he said.
The city received approval last fall for a grant to help pay for the design and construction of the new fuel farm at the airport. The project totals $330,000, funded $297,000 by federal, $16,500 state, and $16,500 in local dollars.
Meanwhile, the aldermen Monday night, September 9 approved a request by Nokes to apply for another grant to help fund an electrical rehab project at the airport. " This will entail replacing and relocating our rotating beacon, which is extremely old. We've put a lot of money in it during the last few years. They have made a lot of technological advances since this one was built and a new one will greatly reduce all this maintenance that we're having to do right now," said Nokes
"Another part of that (project) is going to be an electrical vault room, which will be located out behind the current maintenance hangar. It will house all of our airfield lighting equipment. Everything that powers the runway lights, the rotating beacon, the PAPI lights. Everything will be housed in one spot. It will be a secure room, which is the way it is supposed to be and it will also free up the space that is currently being occupied inside the maintenance hangar and give Burton a little more room in there to do his operations," said Nokes.
"The bigger part of it will entail replacing our actual runway lights with a modern LED system. If we replace this with an LED system, it will pay for itself just in electricity savings in one to three years depending upon how much it is actually used over that period of time. It varies by electrical consumption. But that's the numbers on it right now. In one to three years that portion will pay for itself," he said.
The total cost of the grant to do all these rehabs will be $450,000 at a 5% match. The cost to the city will be $22,500, according to Nokes.