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Engineering firm signs on to Vicksburg Airport expansion project

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen moved closer toward upgrading the Vicksburg Municipal Airport by hiring an engineering firm for the project and making an initial application for a planning grant to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The board Friday authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to sign a contract with Nashville, Tenn.-based Barge Design Solutions to perform the engineering for the estimated $8 to $9 million project and to begin the process to receive the FAA grant money that will be used to design airport renovations.

The city’s contract with Barge Design did not include the engineer’s fees pending negotiations.

The city’s application for the FAA money is called a pre-application, which is a notice from the board to the FAA that the city plans to seek money for a project in 2020.

If the grant is approved, the FAA will pay 90 percent, or $150,000 of the estimated $166,667 planning costs, with the city and state paying the 10 percent balance of about $8,334 each.

Preliminary plans call for extending the airport runway from 5,001 feet to about 6,500 feet and other improvements.

“This is a step toward making our airport the way it should have been years ago,” South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour said. “It will be at a very low cost to the city of Vicksburg.”

He said the city will seek state multimodal funds for the project.

Besides expanding the runway, Keafur Grimes with Barge Design said the company will look at other improvements at the airport.

“The taxiway pavement needs to be rehabilitated,” he said. “We are going to do a pavement analysis to determine what needs to be done. We will do the same thing with the apron.

“We hope to look at the fueling apron and expand it so aircraft can get in to the self-fueling; right now the larger planes can’t get in to the fuel tank for self-fueling because there’s not enough room,” he said.

Monsour announced plans to expand the airport at the board’s meeting on Oct. 10.

Located off U.S. 61 South, the Vicksburg Municipal Airport was activated in 1950.

The proposed expansion is expected to be part of a multimodal system centered around a proposed new port for Vicksburg or the possible expansion of the existing port.

Becoming multimodal means Vicksburg will be able to offer multiple transportation sites available for business and industry to bring supplies and equipment to the area. It also means, Monsour said, the airport could serve charter and commuter flights.

The move to make the area multimodal has been part of an effort to make Vicksburg and Warren County more inviting to companies that will supply materials to the Continental Tire facility near Clinton.

The combination of a new port and modernized airport, combined with highway and rail access, Monsour said, “Makes industry know we have every access and means to get its product in and out of Vicksburg, Miss. There’s not many places that can say that.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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