Wednesday, January 21, 2015

County awarded $350,000 for airport construction work scheduled for February: Jackson County Airport (KJXN), Jackson, Michigan

JACKSON, MI – County officials are flying high after a state aeronautics agency awarded the county $350,000 in grant funds for tree clearing at the Jackson County Airport.

Commissioners are expediting work associated with a $20 million project at Jackson County Airport after voting unanimously Tuesday, Jan. 20, to allow Commissioner James "Steve" Shotwell the authority to approve the grant funds.

The Michigan Aeronautics Commission voted Wednesday, Jan. 21, to grant Jackson County the $350,000 in funds. Jackson County Airport was one of 13 airports in the state awarded grant funding Wednesday by the MAC.

Shotwell said he intends to approve the funding and begin the tree clearing at the airport. The grant will pay for two contracts for construction services with the state and county match requirement set at $8,750 each.

The project is scheduled to begin next month.

"We're clicking right along," Shotwell said.

One $282,000 contract with Springport-based Mead Brothers is for tree and grub clearing on airport property for a clearer runway approach. The second contract is a $38,000 agreement with Lansing-based Mead & Hunt for construction administration services. Mead & Hunt completed the preliminary engineering design for the whole construction project in 2014.

The roughly $30,000 in extra funds covered by the state grant is for contingency costs associated with the project, airport Manager Kent Maurer said.

The complete safety project consists of two components. The extension of one runway from 3,500 feet to 4,000 feet was finished in 2008.

The next component, the larger of the two, requires an existing runway to be demolished and replaced with the longer runway. The new one will be almost one mile long, and must have 1,000 feet of safety area at each end. Both runways will be 100 feet wide.

"The new runway will be only 1 foot longer than the existing one and it will be 50 feet narrower," Maurer said. "There is a common misconception that the primary purpose building the new runway is to 'make it for bigger aircraft.' The sole purpose of building the new runway is to ... meet (federal) safety standards."

When the project is finished in 2017, the airport will meet Federal Aviation Administration safety standards for the first time in more than seven decades.

The new runways are expected to last about 40 years.

The majority of the project will be funded with federal dollars, although the state and county also will provide money for the expansion. Jackson County is only expected to contribute 2.5 percent of the total project costs.

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