Smith County commissioners agreed to allow a road to be rerouted as the airport prepares an application for federal funding to pay for upgrades to an aging runway.
Before moving forward with the grant application, an agreement with the county to possibly relocate County Road 1184 (Parker Road) was necessary.
Reconstruction of runway 4/22 is a priority project within the Airport Master Plan because of the age of the pavement section exceeding 20 years and low weight capacity. The city is preparing to make impact assessments and environmental surveys in preparation for seeking grants from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for most of the project.
Tyler city leaders agreed in July to accept a $7.6 million grant from the FAA to fund runway improvements and the environmental survey and assessments.
The project included construction of a full-length parallel taxiway, along the western side of runway 17/35 to help aircraft transition to and from the runway, as well as other airport facilities.
The work is designed to reduce taxiing distances for the commercial carriers and improve safety standards on the airfield. It is expected to be completed in fall 2013.
The reconstruction project includes an upgrade and extension of the airport’s longest runway to 8,200 feet from 7,800 feet. The improvements would make the runway available to larger aircraft. The project also would include the relocation of an Instrument Landing System, which helps guide incoming aircraft to land at the airport during poor weather conditions.
Officials also hope to open up land for future corporate and industrial development opportunities, Airport Manager Davis Dickson said. Dickson said the county has been supportive, and that he has been discussing long-term plans with neighbors, including residents and businesses, regarding the possible changes.
Moving the landing system and the extension of the runway makes rerouting the county road a possible necessity.
County Road Administrator Doug Nicholson said the county has approved rerouting roads for the airport in the past. County Road 1145 (Pleasant Retreat Road) was rerouted before the 17/35 project began.
Nicholson said the rerouting project would not disturb the flow of traffic because the new road would be built and then connected with the existing road.
County commissioner Jeff Warr said the improvements will pay dividends to the region as Tyler continues to grow. He said the impact of the airport improvements coupled with nearby Loop 49 connecting with Interstate 20 will ripple throh the area.
“It improves the capacity for the airport,” he said. “We want to accommodate growth and have worked with them in the past because it is good for Tyler, Smith County and East Texas.”
Dickson said the 4/22 project would allow the airport to serve larger planes such as 737s with more frequency in the future. Right now, though, the project is not about serving more or bigger planes, but rather bringing the infrastructure up to standards that can support long-term growth.
In 2010, the overall economic impact of the airport on East Texas was about $66 million.
Dickson told the court moving the road would be paid for with the grant and put no expense on the county.
Tyler Pounds Regional Airport is served by American Airlines to DFW Airport and United Airlines to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.