Vicksburg Municipal Airport master plan, report sent to FAA

Published 4:29 pm Friday, August 6, 2021

A master plan for proposed improvements at the Vicksburg Municipal Airport has been sent to the Federal Aviation Administration, the project’s engineer said.

Keafur Grimes with Barge Design Solutions of Nashville, Tenn., said Friday a report on the airport and soil test results have been sent with the plan to the FAA, which must review it.

“As soon as they make their comments they’ll send it to the city,” he said.

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Grimes, however, said it could be some time before the city gets the reports.

“The FAA has been pretty swamped with grants,” he said, pointing out federal officials have had to review about 300 applications for COVID relief grants besides the usual 100-plus grant applications the FAA has to review before the federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

“That’s one grant under the Trump administration and two grants under the Biden Administration,” he said. “That’s why the planning stuff has slowed down a little bit. Right now, the project is done and all we have to do is wait for their review, then we’re going to move it out.”

Usually, Grimes said, planning grants take about two to three years to process, “So we’re way under that.”

Grimes said the soil test results from the area of the airport’s south runway have raised some concerns.

“They (engineers) were so shocked that the soil conditions were so bad, especially about five, six feet below the surface, and that created some issues because we were concerned about what type of aircraft would be able to come in during saturated field conditions,” he said. “We found out the soil was much weaker than we thought.”

He said the tests were done in March when the area around the runway was saturated from local rains. He said the lab that tested the soil samples verified the results after a second review.

Grimes said the city is trying to speed up the timetable to rehab the runway, which will add an additional three to four inches of pavement to the south runway and help the situation. Presently, he said, the project is set for some time in 2022 or 2023, depending on FAA funding.

He said a $207,000 drainage project for the airport can also help soil conditions at the south runway. The project is funded 100 percent by an FAA grant, which means the city will not have to contribute any matching funds.

“Right now, there’s a beaver dam that has the water blocked,” Grimes said. “Whenever there’s a storm, the water is blocked and it doesn’t go anywhere. It keeps percolating through the soil.”

The drainage project involves the installation of a headwall and reinforced concrete pipe to remove the water. The headwall, Grimes said, will help direct the flow of the drainage through the pipe and away from the runway.

Groves said some of the city’s COVID relief money will be used to hire a contractor to remove the beaver dam.

“We flew a drone over the area and we found out where the beaver dam is,” he said.

He plans to get the drainage project construction documents to the city next week. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen meets Tuesday.

The board has discussed upgrades for the Vicksburg Airport that are expected to make it part of a multi-modal system centered around a proposed new port for Vicksburg or the possible expansion of the existing port.

Becoming multi-modal means Vicksburg will be able to offer multiple transportation sites for business and industry to bring supplies and equipment to the area and make Vicksburg and Warren County more inviting to companies that will supply materials to the Continental Tire facility near Clinton.

The board in October 2019 hired Barge Design Solutions to survey and design needed upgrades to the airport on U.S. 61 South that was activated in 1950.

In May 2020, the board approved a $215,811 work authorization order with Barge to study and design a proposed massive upgrade to the airport.

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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