Funding available earlier than expected for Columbia Regional Airport

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Regional Airport is about to get the renovation its been hoping for. The small airport currently flies to Dallas and Chicago.

The Federal Aviation Administration originally planned and budgeted for design and construction of new projects at the airport in 2020, however new funding is available for design services to begin this year according to the Columbia City Council Meeting Agenda. 

The agenda noted there are three projects expected to be completed at Columbia Regional Airport. Grants and the transportation sales tax will fund the reconstruction of taxiway C, Route H and the development of a pavement management program. 

"This is a continuation of an airport improvement plan," Director of Public Works David Nichols said. "We've had several projects in the past. The current one under construction now, the 13-31, was identified previously, and it's under construction." 

The city council agenda said the cost of the three projects is estimated at $583,737.14, with a 90% reimbursement from the FAA. This improvement project will be next to runway 13-31, which is currently under construction.

"We get a 90/10 match for FAA grants, and so once we get the grant funds, this then allows the money that was transferred to go back where those original funds came from," Nichols said.

Nichols also said the FAA providing the grant alleviates tax payer dollars from going to the reconstruction of the airport. 

For taxiway C, the project is planned to lengthen and widen the runway. As for the pavement management program, the FAA plans to see if there's a need for a pavement condition index and a pavement management system study for airfield movement near Columbia Regional Airport. 

The third leg of the project focuses on the reconstruction of Route H. Route H currently crosses through the new runway protection zone, programmed for 2019, with a 900 foot extension of runway 2-20. The FAA hopes to relocate part of Route H to allow for this extension. 

"Relocating Route H is a planned expansion of the runway so we have to take care of that relocation before we can do the next construction project," Nichols said.

According to the city council agenda, Route H must be designed and constructed prior to the extension project.