By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) reported last week that Atmore Municipal Airport was among the 23 local facilities throughout the state that will share more than $13.5 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants.
The grants range from $2.64 million for the Huntsville International-Carl T. Jones Field Airport to $72,000 for the local landing strip.
They are funded through the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the grant money is earmarked for airport improvements that support infrastructure construction, safety advances and the acquisition of equipment.
The funds allocated to the Atmore airfield were to pay for “construction of a pump fuel facility and an update to the airport master plan study,” but Mayor Jim Staff said the city has rethought and revised its original application.
“We redid everything,” Staff said. “We’ll use the $72,000 to update our long-range plan, but the fuel farm will have to be put off for another year. I guess you could say we’re kicking the can down the road a little bit.”
The mayor said the city has qualified for 100 percent grant funding for a new taxiway that will cost several millions of dollars. If that application is approved, it will also cost the city its annual $150,000 airport grant, which requires a 5 percent match.
Staff said Atmore had qualified for the no-payback funds but was “competing with one other area airport” for the money.
“We’re kind of rolling the dice,” he said. “We’ve put in for a taxiway and we’re hoping we’ll get some 100 percent money. The no-match grants can’t be used for revenue-producing projects, so we won’t be able to use it for the fuel farm. But the taxiway will cost several million dollars, and we won’t have to pay any of that back, so we’re hoping that comes through.”
Senator Shelby said he was pleased that the FAA funds — which he said would help spur economic growth in the various communities — had received final approval.
“I am proud our state is receiving more funding to advance airport infrastructure,” Shelby said. “These grants are important investments in the safety, security and efficiency of local airports in Alabama. The improvements will help drive growth in local communities and directly impact the quality of life for residents and visitors.”
The 24 FAA grants (including two for Bay Minette) represent a total of $13,510,593. That money includes the following airport projects in the Atmore area:
* Brewton Municipal Airport, City of Brewton – $300,000 for runway lighting and airport beacon rehabilitation;
* Bay Minette Municipal Airport, City of Bay Minette – $55,440 for runway obstruction removal and $45,000 for an update to the airport master plan study;
* Monroe County Aeroplex Airport, County of Monroe – $506,105 for runway rehabilitation;
* Evergreen Regional-Middleton Field Airport, City of Evergreen – $164,742 for runway obstruction removal