TYLER - Construction to upgrade the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport’s longest runway will be complete in about a year and a half.
It’s a six-part project to reconfigure runway 4-22, the longest of three runways at Tyler Pounds. The strip is 7,800 feet long and 150 feet wide. Tyler Pounds is proposing to extend it to 8,330 feet. The work also will upgrade instrumentation to help larger planes land, as well as leveling out a dip that obstructs a line of sight for pilots landing planes.
Construction began in 2014.
Construction on the fourth phase of the project is anticipated to be ready to start in September.
While the project has six phases, the fourth is the last one dealing with actual runway construction. The last two concentrate on taxiways, which don’t have an effect on an airplane’s ability to take off or touchdown.
Once complete, the estimated $47 million total project will allow the airport to take in larger planes - including those preferred by Southwest Airlines - that is, if the airline decides to bring its business to Tyler in the future. It also could open opportunities to bring cargo planes into the city.
Airport Manager Davis Dickson said the fourth phase is the last because it is the most difficult.
“It’s the most complicated part, operationally speaking,” Dickson said.
The city will reach out for construction bids for the phase in July, and is hoping to get a Federal Aviation Administration grant by September to complete the work.
Dickson said the city needs the construction bids in hand before applying for the grant funds. Since the project is ongoing, there’s a high likelihood the project will be funded.
Dickson estimates construction on the phase will take 10 to 12 months. If the grant is like previous ones awarded for other phases, the FAA would pay for 90 percent of the construction costs, and the city would take on 10 percent. The city’s portion has come from the half-cent sales tax fund.
The city also is hoping to be able to get grant funds to help move the instrument landing systems at the airport during the final phase of runway construction. This change would help planes land during inclement weather.
While the city sets up Phase 4, work on Phase 3 is ongoing. That work includes extending the runway 530 feet and pouring a new runway.
Construction on that single piece is budgeted for $9.1 million, and is expected to be done by winter.
Crews are treating the runway’s subgrade with cement. Then, an asphalt base will be poured on top of that, followed by a thick layer of concrete.
Once dry, the surface will be grooved to give it texture on top, to prevent sliding.