Airport getting grant for taxiway, fuel farm

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 19, 2009

The Brookhaven Municipal Airport is working toward a new andimproved fuel farm and taxiway, and a grant provided through aTransportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Developmentappropriations bill will be a part of bringing those projects tofruition.

Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker announced Friday that theDepartment of Transportation has released over $3.5 million infunding for airports across the state of Mississippi. Of that,$48,693 is designated for the local airport’s fuel farm and taxiwayprojects.

Airport Manager Clifford Britt said the taxiway asphalt projectwill be the first order of business, as the grant will onlypartially help with the fuel farm.

“We’ve built some new hangars but we didn’t have enough money tocomplete the asphalt work. We needed one more layer of asphalt thatwould bring it up to grade so that it will be level with theconcrete in the slab that the hangars are built on,” he said. “It’sprobably 3 inches below where the top of the concrete is right now,and the next layer of asphalt will make that flush.”

Meanwhile, the current fuel farm system is more than 40 yearsold.

While it used to hold 6,000 gallons of fuel, one of the tanksmalfunctioned two years ago, leaving it only able to accommodate3,000 gallons. The new fuel farm will hold 24,000 gallons ofaviation gasoline and Jet A fuel, Britt said.

“We’re replacing our old underground fuel tanks with a newabove-ground system that requires a lot less maintenance andoversight because they’re more environmentally friendly,” he said.”You don’t have the corrosion and problems you’d have with theunderground tank systems.”

In addition, the new tanks will be double-walled and will havean alarm on the inside wall that will alert airport officials ifthere is a leak in the system.

Britt said officials expect the fuel farm project to be fullyunder way in April, when an Airport Improvement Grant is expectedto come through to supplement the FAA grant. At that point, hesaid, the project, which already had to be put off once because ofprohibitive bid prices, will be rebid.

The new hangars have been a project airport officials have beenexcited to see come to completion as well, and Britt said anyimprovements to the airport are good for the city of Brookhaven. Hesaid grant money for airport projects is often based on how manyplanes are stationed there.

“Ten additional hangars is 10 additional aircraft,” he said. “Wehad about 26 located here, now we’ll have room for 10 more, andthat will help us as the more planes that are based at Brookhaven;it will eventually help us get larger amounts of AIP money.”

The U.S. senators also touted the benefits of the grant-fundedprojects.

“Improving our state’s airports is all the more important duringthese challenging economic times,” Cochran said in a release. “Witha strong transportation infrastructure, Mississippi will be able toattract the industry needed to create quality jobs and improvelocal economies.”

Funding for the grants, administered by the Federal AviationAdministration, was provided through the Fiscal Year 2008Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Developmentappropriations bill.

“Updating our transportation infrastructure is an essential partof ensuring Mississippi remains economically competitive in thefuture,” Wicker said. “These federal funds will improve airportsafety and efficiency, ensuring our local airports continue havinga positive impact on economic growth in our state.”