Almost $1.6M Old Alabama Road easement grant could be transferred for "runway rehab"

Authority looking to shift GDOT funds for airport repairs

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With the long-planned Old Alabama Road improvement project currently stalled, the Cartersville-Bartow County Airport Authority looks to reposition a $1.6 million Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) grant to cover some other airport-related expenses — namely, making some repairs to the city/county-owned runway. 

"The existing grant is approved," said Cartersville Assistant City Manager Dan Porta. "It's been something the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved to help in the runway safety area — if a pilot overshoots the runway, this additional safety area will hopefully preclude them from going over into Old Alabama Road or if they're coming in from the other direction, going into 61 or 113."

About $1.5 million of that grant, he said, was designated for a land easement acquisition to construct that safety area. But with GDOT delaying the bidding date for construction contracts on the Old Alabama Road project from fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2024 — and the county mulling its options for financing the project in smaller "phases" — the Authority now hopes to receive approval to shift that funding towards what Porta describes as a "runway rehab project."

"We have to get GDOT approval to do that, and we are taking the necessary steps to core the runway," he said. "That's been on our projected list in the future to do the runway rehab in the upcoming budget year, but we're just trying to see if there are any additional issues we need to address sooner rather than later."

The Authority approved an item at Wednesday's quarterly meeting to bring in a company to drill the pavement, which Porta said would give them the data they need to determine the scope of the repairs the runway may require.

"If it comes out of that data, that the report shows extensive repairs or the type of repairs that are needed, then we can use that for justification to request GDOT to shift the proposed FY 2019 funds," Porta said.

He said he's not even venturing a guess as to how much the total repairs may cost.

"Those are undetermined numbers," he said. "The coring will give us analysis on how bad or how much we need to repair the runway."

The Authority also approved a measure seeking additional funding from the FAA Wednesday to patch up some fencing deficiencies around the airport.

"The FAA is coming out with some additional, supplemental funds as part of the governor's budget, the state budget this year, there are 12 airports in the state that were listed as primary, they needed additional funding," Porta said.

The local airport, however, is not among the dozen cited. Still, Porta said there's a chance they could make a successful pitch for a second round of funding that will be handed out in October. 

"We are making an application in the first round, which typically would fall under those first 12 airports if they get funding, but if there's additional money left over, we'll put our name in the hat," he said. "This grant is asking for $323,745. Of course, it's going to be the same 90 percent feds and 5 percent the state and the 5 percent local. This will actually fill in the gaps on the perimeter fence around the airport."