Construction work could land ahead of schedule

Published 8:27 am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Photo by Bryce Phillips

Photo by Bryce Phillips
Airport manager Dan Cogan discusses some of the capital projects that are underway at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport

Capital improvements at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport are progressing and are expected to be completed ahead of schedule.

Airport Manager Dan Cogan said the ramp expansion project is in “full swing” and would likely be finished before the set completion date in May.

“Summers-Taylor Construction is working on this project for six, seven days a week for 10 to 12 hours a day,” Cogan said.

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The airport has received $2.2 million for the project, which will expand the ramp area to support more airplanes at the main terminal building. The ramp is the area where planes park after landing, unload and load passengers and refuel before departing the airport.

The grant covers all aspects of the ramp rehabilitation. This includes tearing out the old ramp surface, undercutting and new gravel and asphalt for the new ramp and all Federal Aviation Administration-approved markings for the ramp. An old hangar in the area where the new ramp will be has been demolished and will be reconstructed on the opposite side of the airfield.

Cogan said the work started in December with the removal of an underground fuel storage tank that was used by Moody Aviation when they were at the airport. Cogan said the removal went smoothly for the most part and met all Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deadlines.

The only issue occurred when water inside the old tank spilled out during removal. Cogan said there were concerns about the residual fuel left in the tank, which meant testing had to be done. The results came back negative for any contamination.

The hangar reconstruction will feature a slightly larger building than the one that had been demolished. Cogan said the building had been ordered with an expected delivery date of May to be constructed in June. He said all of the new plane spaces had been filled.

“It will take us from 24 spaces to 28 spaces,” he said. “I could fill six more if I had them.”

In the past year, the Elizabethton airport has received $4.6 million in grant funds from the $22 million in available funding that was to be divided among the 60 airports in Tennessee.

“That is more than any other airport in the state,” Cogan said. “I expect the grant funding will continue this year. We have already been talking about other projects. I expect we will get our fair share and more.”

Cogan said the property acquisition for parcels on Sunrise Drive in the Runway Protection Zone had started. He said 12 parcels, with eight owners, would be affected and that the state was in charge of all of the negotiations.

By clearing all of the parcels in the zone, the airport will be able to use the full length of the runway. Currently, the farthest portion is not open to use because of the structures in the zone.

Cogan said the first closings in the process are expected to happen in September with the last closings to be held at the start of the new year.

Cogan also reported the airport was in good financial standing for the current fiscal year. He said the airport had a 2 percent income increase and a 2 percent expenditure decrease. Fuel sales overall were up by 18 percent, and the airport had a $2,000 decrease in the winter heating bills because of a new hangar door that had been installed.