Construction crews are all over the grounds at Coolidge Municipal Airport, completing a variety of projects that aim to open up the airport for future business while making it safer to use.
The main project currently underway is the extension of Taxiway ‘A’. As of now, a plan wishing to take off north from runway 17-35 must first travel south on the runway and turn around at the end before taking off. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) have deemed this unsafe, and have thus provided the city with a grant to fix it. The taxiway will be extended to the other end of the runway so a plane will not be in harm’s way at takeoff.
In addition to the safety benefits, the extension also opens up a lot of land for potential hangars to be built along paved road, where as currently planes from those hangars would not have any direct access to the runways. The tactical training facility located on the southern part of the airport will immediately benefit from the taxiway’s extension.
This project cost a total of $873,438, but the City of Coolidge only had to pay $39,043 of that price, as the rest was funded from a $795,352 grant from the FAA and a $39,043 grant from ADOT.
The runway itself was also under construction recently, as it was reconstructed with new pavement and new paint to get rid of the deterioration that had occurred. About 90 percent of the $500,000 total was funded by grants from ADOT’s Aeronautics Division.
Grants also funded the installation of an All Weather Operating System (AWOS), which informs pilots about the weather conditions as they prepare to land.
Growth Management Director Rick Miller requested the inclusion of a project in the next city budget that would replace the underground fuel pipes at the airport with above-ground pipes that are less likely to break and cause an oil spill.
The city is still waiting for approval from ADOT for their airport master plan, which will outline the future of the facility.
“I think it’s very important that all these projects are a part of a long-term planning effort that Coolidge has had for this airport,” Miller said. “We need to keep making improvements to this airport, not letting its cracks grow.”