County airport improvements nearly complete

Published 2:01 am Sunday, May 11, 2008

NATCHEZ — The end of a much needed improvement project at the Natchez-Adams County Airport is nearing completion.

Airport manager Clint Pomeroy said a project to overlay the taxiway and install new lighting is approximately 95 percent complete.

“We’re very excited,” he said of the new work.

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But for Pomeroy the project means more that just new asphalt and light bulbs — it’s the culmination of a project that’s several years in the making.

“We���ve tried to get funding for nearly 8 years,” he said.

It was almost 8 years ago when Pomeroy first attempted to acquire funding for the project from the Federal Aviation Administration.

But that was a dead end.

Pomeroy said the FAA would not fund the project since the taxiway led to the airport’s secondary runway, not to the primary runway.

But recently the airport was able to get funding from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Pomeroy said the funding came from MDOT’s multimodal transportation fund.

The grant supplied more than $450,000 for the improvement work.

When Pomeroy first started pricing the job several years ago he said the work could have been done at a considerably reduced rate, less than $100,000.

“The prices just kept going up,” he said.

The grant funded the overlay of the taxiway and bought close to 100 new taxiway lights.

Pomeroy said the old taxiway was close to 22 years old and had started to crack and break apart.

The fractured taxiway left bits of debris that could damage propellers and engines Pomeroy said.

“It definitely needed to be fixed,” he said.

The new lighting replaced an electrical system that was more than 40 years old.

Pomeroy said the old system was so old and frail that airport employees were apprehensive to work on it fearing the entire system could go out.

But that’s all changed now.

All that’s left to do is build a shoulder on the taxiway and the project should be complete.

Tommy Booth, MDOT’s director of aeronautics, said an airport in a city the size of Natchez is a great economic tool for the city.

Booth said it’s of great benefit to a company when their employees can fly directly into a city that has it’s own airport.

“It’s an asset to the city,” he said.