Grant will aid airport

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 2, 2001

Staff Writer

The United States Senate has approved $2 million for improvements at the Troy Municipal Airport.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who is a ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, notified city officials of the appropriations approval.

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"Improvements for the airport are an important priority in this year’s appropriations process," Shelby said.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said the appropriations will allow continued improvements to the airport.

This past year, Troy officials have applied for grant funding to install fencing around the airport that will keep wildlife off the runways. A serious accident, followed by some near misses between aircraft and deer, forced officials to take immediate action and turn to the state and federal governments for financial assistance.

Lunsford said the $2 million is not designated for the fencing project or the extension of the main runway, but will be used for other projects.

"We’re developing a plan for the airport that involves ongoing overall improvements," Lunsford said.

The initial plan is to construct a Fixed Base Operations facility, which will give visitors to the airport and pilots a nice place to relax.

But, that is not all that is needed, Lunsford said. He said additional hanger space, resurfacing of runways, expansion of ramp areas, as well as a need for parking and access to the airport, are improvements officials want to see completed.

A study that will determine whether or not an extension is needed will also be done, Lunsford said.

"This $2 million will go a long way toward these projects," Lunsford said. "This is not a specific grant, but will go where it will benefit the most."

The mayor said he wants to make sure Troy has "absolutely the best facility of any community our size," which will improve economic development.

Shelby said approving the funds shows "the Senate’s commitment to safe and efficient transportation."