City receives $2.1M grant for apron restoration at airport

By HASKEL BURNS,

A half-century-old section of apron at the Hattiesburg Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport will soon be restored with the help of a $2.13 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation-Federal Aviation Administration.

Hattiesburg City Council members recently voted 5-0 to approve the grant, as well as to accept a bid of $1.8 million from Simmons Erosion Control for the work.

“It will repave a portion of the existing concrete apron,” said airport director Lamar Rutland who also serves as engineer for the City of Hattiesburg. “It’s been neglected – we’ve had some minor repairs that have been done out there, but I think it’s been about 40 or 50 years since the original paging was installed.

“So it’s been a needed project; it’ll be a great project for the city and the airport.”

Ninety percent of the grant is funded by the Federal Aviation Administration. Of the remaining 10 percent, 5 percent will be funded by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and 5 percent will be funded by the city.

The only other bid received by the city was from Chris Albritton Construction Company in the amount of $2.3 million.

“We’re trying to start work as soon as possible,” Rutland said. “I would look for work to start in the next two or three months, and it would probably take, I would guess, about 12 months to complete the project.”

The project is considered Part 1 of the restoration at the airport, with plans to renovate more of the apron in the future.

“The total encompass of this concrete apron is about 11 acres of concrete, so we’re just doing a small portion of that (now),” Rutland said. “I don’t know the exact amount right now, but it’s less than half of that amount.

“So our intention would be to eventually phase in and do the full apron, but that’s kind of as funding comes along. This was a unique opportunity that we seized to get this funding and do this project.”

In addition to accepting the grant and the bid from Simmons Erosion Control, council members also voted to approve a supplemental agreement with ARE Consultants for design engineering services related to the apron project. That company will be responsible for schedules, conferences, review of work, shop drawings and samples, and maintaining records, among other duties.

The Hattiesburg Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport, which was opened in 1930, covers approximately 420 acres with one runway near the Hattiesburg-Forrest County Industrial Park. The airport primarily serves corporate, military and general aviation for Forrest, Lamar, Perry, Pearl River, Stone and Greene counties.