Airfield Upgrades

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2006

The Selma times-Journal

Nearly 70 acres of parking apron at Craig airfield will get upgrades in the coming months due to the successful securing of a $450,000 federal grant.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama,

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announced the grant award Tuesday and in a statement said, “This project will rehabilitate the apron and runway, as the existing concrete has begun to deteriorate. We must continue to invest in our airport infrastructure to provide the safest and most efficient travel for Alabamians.”

Over the past couple of years, according to Menzo Driskell, executive director at Craig, concrete has popped loose due to rain seeping down into it and freezing. The weather, combined with the traffic the field gets has made for some long overdue repairs.

“We get a lot more traffic out here than people may think,” said Driskell.

The loosened concrete typically appears along the corners of the concrete squares and presents a potential hazard to the planes.

For example, said Driskell, if a plane comes in and a piece is whipped up into it, the cost for repair to the plane can run up to $1,500 or more.

Typically, the cost for concrete runs between $65 to $68 per cubic yard, depending on the specifications for the job, according to Paul Bearden, a dispatcher for Cosby Carmichael sand and gravel.

When work begins, the contractors will saw cut the damaged areas and pour in high strength concrete, explained Driskell. The project, which will take about two months to complete, will likely create some short term jobs for the community.

Another grant Craig Airfield officials have been working on is for improvements to the water and fire protection service in the industrial park.

“We’ve been approved for a federal economic development grant for a million gallon elevated water tower,” said Driskell.

The application for it has already been approved and they expect to receive about $740,000 in federal funds for that project.

Craig airfield has also applied for another grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation to resurface W. Park Road.

As with all federal grants, Craig airfield will need to come up with 10 percent in matching funds.

Passersby have probably noticed a large number of Hyundai cars at the airfield. Driskell said there are about 3,000 currently out there and that they are there for a good reason. The local economic development agency is expected to make an announcement about the specifics of the deal soon.