U.S. Sen. Doug Jones recently announced that grant money has been awarded to Walker County Airport-Bevill Field, with an engineering official saying up to 200 aging lights at the facility could be …
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones recently announced that grant money has been awarded to Walker County Airport-Bevill Field, with an engineering official saying up to 200 aging lights at the facility could be replaced as a result.
Courtney Tomberlin of Garver Engineering in Huntsville, the project engineer, said Thursday, "The current lighting system has reached its useful life. In order to avoid a catastrophic failure of the system, we will be replacing the runway and taxiway lights," starting this year and likely concluding in 2020.
Jones announced that $1,108,500 is being awarded to the Jasper airport. The funding was part of $25 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation to various airport improvement projects across the state.
Federal funding is usually for 90 percent for a project, with the state and local government each contributing 5 percent. The local match from Walker County will be approximately $55,000, County Engineer Mike Short said Thursday.
“Well maintained and accessible airports are critical to our state’s continued economic growth and they are key to helping our communities expand and thrive,” Jones said in a statement. “This $25.9 million round of grants is great news for communities all around the state of Alabama that will put these dollars to work to improve their local airport’s infrastructure and safety.”
Short said the funding was urgently needed at the local county airport to replace current lighting that dates back to the 1980s.
Tomberlin said the money is not in hand yet, although the funding has been announced and is expected before the end of the current fiscal year.
Bids are being advertised now, with bids to be opened July 11 at the local airport, Tomberlin said.
She noted airport officials began experiencing lighting outages around Thanksgiving last year.
"They have maintained it to the best of their ability. It is what they call a direct varied system, where the wire is just buried in the ground. It is not in a conduit," she said. "We are just crossing our fingers we don't have another outage before we actually get this project started."
Tomberlin said roughly 70 lights are planned for the runway, and the taxiway would have 130 lights.
"There is a base bid and an alternate. The runway is the base bid. It will be replaced first," she said. "Then if funding allows, we'll move into the taxiway" alternate bid.
The bid only concentrates on the lighting and is separate from other studies and planning to possible extend the runway, she said. In July 2018, a $135,000 federal grant was obtained, with Short saying it would be used for a study to look at the feasibility of extending the runway.
Other airports in the region also were funded with the recent round of federal airport grants.
Cullman Regional-Folsom Field Airport got $1.5 million for reconstructing taxiway, while Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport got nearly $10.4 million to acquire an aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle and construct an aircraft rescue and fire fighting building. The Birmingham airport also got more than $1 million to conduct an environmental study. The Bessemer Airport also got nearly $2.3 million to rehabilitate runway and runway lighting.