Fed funding fuels airport improvements

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 11, 2009

A federal appropriation will provide city planners with thefinal funding sum necessary to complete a pair of ongoingimprovements to the Brookhaven Municipal Airport.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $103,207 tothe city for the construction of an asphalt taxiway around thefacility’s new hangar and the installation of a new fuel farm. Thefunding, administered through the Federal Aviation Administration,will be sufficient to pay for both projects when paired withexisting city grants, such as approximately $50,000 awarded earlierthis year and a $235,000 grant awarded last year.

The federal appropriations, announced Friday by Mississippi’sSen. Thad Cochran and Sen. Roger Wicker, total approximately $1.8million and will fund improvements at 17 airports across thestate.

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Michael Corkern, associate principal of the Airport DevelopmentGroup, said the money would be used to reimbursement the projectsonce completed. The taxiway project is completed, he said, whilethe $268,231 fuel farm job is set to begin within two weeks. CobbEnvironmental and Technical Services, Inc., is expected to have thefuel farm up and running by the end of summer, Corkern said.

“The existing fuel farm is over 40 years old, so this money isgoing to be used to dig that out of the ground and put a new fuelfarm in place,” he said. “There’s been some times when the old fuelsystem has gone down and (the city has) missed out on sales.”

Corkern said the new fuel farm would be operational around theclock, with a credit card reader that will allow incoming pilots toself-serve no matter the time of day. He said the new fuel farm,when coupled with the airport’s eight new hangar slots, shouldincrease revenues generated by the airport.

“The two go hand-in-hand,” Corkern said. “The airport can andshould be an economic catalyst for the community.”

City Clerk Mike Jinks said the airport is an economicallyimportant part of Brookhaven because of the business executives whouse it.

“Mayfab, Georgia Pacific, Wal-Mart – they have a lot of peoplein and out,” he said. “I believe the airport is important to thecity, and you’ve got to keep it in shape if you’re going to haveone.”