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FAA awards $3.2 million grant for airport terminal

This photo shows a rendering of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

This photo shows a rendering of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

ALBANY — The federal government Tuesday promised the city of Albany $3.2 million in funding to help build the city’s new airport terminal at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

A “Notice of Grant Award” has been issued by the Georgia Department of Transportation and states that the Federal Aviation Commission has given the airport $3,244,726 in funds to go towards the construction of the new terminal.

That amount includes $1.1 million in FAA funding that the airport was entitled due to being a non-hub rural airport and $2.04 million in discretionary spending funds.

The money will require that the city put up a percentage of local dollars, which will come from sales tax proceeds approved by the voters as a part of Special Local Sales Tax Option VII last November.

Last month, the city commission gave Airport Director Yvette Aehle what amounted to a $3.2 million ceiling on which to base federal funding levels so that the amount of local matching funds could be determined.

The airport overhaul will cost roughly $15 million to complete. The award announced Tuesday is for construction and demolition of the terminal building itself.

Other improvements, including rehabilitation and construction of the runway apron and the creation of a new parking scheme, are included in the $15 million package.

Despite the fact that the airport is technically in violation of Homeland Security regulations in part because of limitations of the 1950’s-era terminal, there was some doubt as to whether the FAA would be able to fork over any cash.

In July, just as airport officials were preparing bids on the terminal phase of the construction project, the FAA shut down over a funding squabble in Congress.

When its offices re-opened through a temporary funding agreement that allowed operations to continue through September, the FAA announced that it would be scrutinizing every dollar spent on projects throughout the country.

And, in some cases, airport improvement projects, like one in Athens, got the ax.

Aehle credit’s the city’s readiness and the support from the area’s congressional delegation with pushing the project up the priority list.

“I think we got this money because we were ready. We had the documents in place, we had the support of the commission and other communities didn’t,” Aehle said. “But having the support of (U.S. Rep. Sanford) Bishop, (U.S. Sen. Johnny) Isakson and (U.S. Sen. Saxby) Chambliss really helped too. They have to fly out of the airport and they know what shape it’s in.”

If all goes as planned, bids on the terminal project should be awarded at a September 27 meeting of the Albany City Commission, with construction expected to start at some point in November or December, Aehle said.

Comments

ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 7 months ago

Will someone please tell me why, particularly in these economic times, are we spending $3.2 mil on a new airport terminal? I understand that a couple of million is just a drop in the bucket, but, multiply this by hundreds (probably thousands) of similar projects across the country and all of a sudden, you're talking BIG money. And we wonder why the country is broke. Someone will come on and remind me that discretionary spending is a small percentage of federal spending. No matter...you've got to start somewhere.

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richie 2 years, 7 months ago

this did not happen overnight. it is a multi-year planning process to replace a 50 year old facility with rising maintenance costs. the plans have been approved three years ago. the voters approved splost 6 money to be the local share at $4 million. the FAA granted $6.8 million last year and this latest grant of $3.2 million is the final piece of the puzzle. the bids have been solicited 3 times with the low bidder selected. after completion, the new terminal will last another 50 years.

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TrixibelleBento 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm glad that the terminal will be replaced. I fly out of there regularly and it's a true embarrassment for people visiting our community for the first time. People form opinions about a community from its airport and our terminal building says nothing but negative things about ours.

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