Gadsden secures $1.3 million in grants for airport improvement


Photo: Northeast Alabama Regional Airport will soon undergo a large repair to the main runway, which spans over one million square feet. This particular patch of damage has been monitored for nearly two years. The damage started as a small crack on the surface and recently began buckling. Kaitlin Hoskins/Messenger

On Friday, July 14, Gadsden Mayor Craig Ford announced the receipt of two grant offers from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to rehabilitate and repair the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport’s main runway.
The two grants from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) will cover 90 percent of the costs of two projects, and the city anticipates state matching grants to support another five percent of the project costs.
“I cannot overstate the importance of our airport to the future of Gadsden and Etowah County,” said Ford. “That’s why I and my team have been aggressively working with our contacts at the FAA, [Alabama Department of Transportation] and in [Washington] D.C. to identify the funding sources that will improve our airport. With continued support from Senator Britt, Senator Tuberville and Congressman Aderholt, we will continue to see growth like this at our airport. With a new airport manager, a renewed airport board and new engineering consultants, we are about to see the airport really take off.”
As for the grants, $861,278 is funded through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) by the FAA and will go toward a sealcoat, crack seal and re-marking project. This will extend the life of the entire main runaway, which spans over one million square feet.
A second FAA grant for $376,744 is funded through the Airport Infrastructure Grant (AIG) and will support the reconstruction of a 6,000-square foot portion of the runway that had developed some buckling.
In addition, the ALDOT Aeronautics Division has pledged $68,779 in matching grants to support the projects. This allows the city to complete $1,375,579 worth of runway repairs with only $68,779 in local funds.
Since taking office, Ford worked with the airport authority to select a new engineering firm to serve the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport. The new engineering team from Goodwyn Mills Cawood’s aviation division has worked to beat on these two funding opportunities to complete this as their first major project at the airport in Gadsden.
Hi-Lite Airfield Services, LLC has been awarded the project bid by the airport authority and a construction commencement date will soon be scheduled.
Northeast Alabama Regional Airport has a second 4,804-foot-long runway, so most flights will continue as normal during construction, according to a statement released by the City of Gadsden.
As a co-sponsor of the airport, the Gadsden City Council and the Gadsden Airport Authority board are mutually responsible for approving the grant funds and similar projects.
On June 16, the city hired Anthony Tarver from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport to be the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport’s new manager, and he is set to take command on Aug. 4.

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