Columbia Regional Airport one step closer to FAA funding for master

The airport is in the process of improving the main runway and crosswinds runway.

The Columbia Regional Airport is one step closer to potential FAA funding.

The completed reconstruction of Taxiway Alpha on July 19 fixed ground water erosion problems, according to a press release.

During the past 40 years, Missouri’s quick freezes and thaws in the winter contributed to problems with the taxiway, Public Works spokesman Steven Sapp said.

“Concrete slabs out there were slowly moving around,” Sapp said.

The new taxiway design addressed these ground water problems. It includes an under-pumping system to drain additional water. The taxiway is graded to last at least 10 years.

“It’s a taxiway for the ages,” Sapp said.

It will also be able to support larger aircraft, as part of the airport’s master plan. Sapp said the airport would like to add more flights and a new terminal as part of Mayor Bob McDavid’s 40 in 20 plan. Columbia Regional Airport is the only “truly regional airport” between Kansas City and St. Louis and serves 17 to 18 counties, he said. McDavid’s plan is to have 40 percent of the market using Columbia Regional Airport by 2020.

“Right now we’re at a very low percentage of that,” Sapp said.

Flights with American airlines have been doing well. In fact, the airport is considering a second daily flight to Chicago and new destinations, Sapp said.

Last month was a record revenue month, and flights have been 95 to 100 percent full, Sapp said..

The 40 in 20 plan also includes a terminal expansion to the north and a longer runway. Sapp estimates the airport will be able to apply for FAA funding for the new terminal by 2017.

Meanwhile, the airport is in the process of improving the main runway and crosswinds runway.

Once the airfield improvements are completed, then the city can apply for discretionary funds from the FAA for terminal improvements, Sapp said.

The FAA would only fund a new terminal building if the airport improved its current pavement conditions and safety.

“They won’t even look at funding terminals unless you have updates in place,” Sapp said.

The Pavement Condition Index for airport is high, which means it is in poor condition.

“We tend to get a high ranking for application of discretionary funds, if they’re available,” Sapp said. “Nothing’s a given. It is a competitive grant, so we never make any assumptions that we’re going to be accepted.”

The airport currently has a “sight issue” with the crosswinds runway, Sapp said.

“There is a tremendously small potential of a collision,” Sapp said.

The airport plans to expand the main runway 500 feet after it finishes upgrading the main runway. This would mean realigning Missouri Route H and Rangeline Road.

The improvements will continue to be done at night, so as not to interrupt flights.

“We have to take it one step at a time,” Sapp said.

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