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Grant funding assists in Air Center upgrades

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Several different improvement projects are planned for the current fiscal year at the Roswell Air Center.

They include a taxiway improvement project to start soon and an apron improvement project to be funded in part by a federal $3.1 million Military Airport Program (MAP) grant ready to be disbursed in the next month or two.

The Roswell Air Center received informal notification of its second MAP grant in March, but the Federal Aviation Administration made the official announcement Tuesday about discretionary grants to airports in 42 states and six U.S. territories.

This year, the FAA awarded $242 million in Airport Improvement Program grants and $31 million in CARES grants. MAP funding is part of the Airport Improvement Program monies. The Roswell Air Center also received $1.23 million in CARES funding.

The first MAP grant received by the Roswell Air Center for about $2 million was announced in September 2019 and is being used to create a new parking area for the airport.

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That project is in the design phase now, which should be completed by the end of winter, said Air Center Director Scott Stark.

The second $3.1 million MAP grant will be used to improve or replace various areas of the airfield apron, or ramp. That is the portion of the airfield pavement near the airport terminal and other buildings.

Stark said the apron near the terminal and west toward the fire station are made of concrete poured during the World War II era.

“It has been maintained over the years, but you can only get so much out of concrete or any kind of pavement,” Stark said.

He said that the portions of the concrete in good condition or with only minor cracks will be sealed, while the portions that cannot be repaired will be demolished and replaced.

The other portion of the apron involved in the project is near AV Flight, the fixed-base operator at the Air Center.

“We have been working on that area, doing a little piece of it at a time with state money, so we have some of it done,” Stark said, “but we are going to try to complete another large portion of it with this grant.”

Previously, Stark said that apron improvement is a safety issue, as well, as chipped or broken off pieces of concrete can be hazardous for planes.

The MAP funds probably will be available in August, but definitely before the federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

“We will not have the normal matching funds from the city and the state that we normally do because the CARES Act will be filling in that for us, so this will be 100% federal money,” Stark said.

The Roswell City Council still must approve the acceptance of the grant, and the signed award letter still has to be submitted to the FAA.

The project will not disrupt commercial passenger flights leaving from and coming to the Air Center, Stark said.

He added that the apron improvement project should take about 10 weeks and ideally will start as soon as the taxiway improvement project is completed.

Bids on the separate, three-phase taxiway improvement project are due to be opened Aug. 6, with the project to be started by October.

Stark said he is hoping that all three phases could be done at the same time, if bids are low enough to allow that. That project is also supposed to cost about $3 million and is expected to take about 75 days once started. Various federal funding sources awarded to the Air Center will be used.

The project involves taxiways at the end of runway 17-35, according to Jacquie Martinez, design engineer for Armstrong Consultants Inc.

The three phases are reconstruction of the Alpha taxiway, reconstruction of the Juliet taxiway and lighting improvements to all of Juliet and possibly part of Alpha.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.