Runway lights limit city airport flights|[2/11/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 11, 2005

Flights in and out of Vicksburg Municipal Airport have been restricted to daytime hours due to problems with runway lights shorting out.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Thursday to hire Allen & Hoshall for engineering services to design new lights for the 55-year-old airport on U.S. 61 South. Officias said they expect the entire project to cost less than $100,000.

“We’ve identified a very serious problem with the runway lights,” said Mayor Laurence Leyens. “Sometimes we can’t even turn them on.”

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Jimmy Nelson of Allen & Hoshall said the design should be complete in about two weeks, and James “Bubba” Rainer, head of the city’s public works department, said city crews will begin the work immediately. Rainer could not say how long installing the new lights will take.

He said the older lights, fixtures and wiring have deteriorated, resulting in the shorts. That work is separate from a multiyear, $3.3 million improvement plan for the municipal airport that includes safety improvements.

The first phase of that project – rehabilitating the runway pavement, applying a sealer over the taxiway pavement, improving approach slopes and improving the north runway safety area – is being funded by a $650,000 state grant.

The city-owned airport was at the center of a four-year legal dispute that erupted following a 1998 vote by the city board to close the facility. In that vote, the former administration signaled its favor for the Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport in Mound, of which the city is a part owner.

By the time the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the city’s right to close the municipal airport in 2002, a new city administration was in office, granted a reprieve and voted to move forward with improvements there. The city has also continued to fund a quarter of the operational costs at VTR.

In other matters the city board: