BLUEFIELD — U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., jointly announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has awarded $525,000 in federal funding for a construction project at the Mercer County Airport.
The airport made improvements to the 2-3 taxiway last year, and the new project will improve the taxiway at the 5 runway. A portion of the taxiway will be removed and a new taxiway will be placed on runway 5. The taxiway work on runways 2-3 and 5 represents the first two components of a three-part improvement project at the airport that includes new fencing around the entire airport in 2016.
According to a press release from Manchin’s office: “The funding will be used for a necessary taxiway that will enhance the safety of airfield operations and ensure that the airport meets specific design standards.”
Manchin, a pilot, and co-chair of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, was quoted in the press release as stating that he understands the importance of investing in airport infrastructure.
“Having an upgraded taxiway at the Mercer County Airport is critical to the safety of our pilots, passengers and all those in the community who benefit from the services provided by the airport,” Manchin was quoted as stating. “This project will help prevent avoidable accidents and injuries while also laying the foundation for economic growth in the region.”
Capito was quoted in the same press release as stating that working together on vital infrastructure projects like the Mercer County Airport taxiway “can bridge the partisan divide” and enhance economic progress. “West Virginians rely on our airports and other transportation systems to access hard to reach areas in the state and to transport necessary goods and services,” Capito was quoted as stating.
Clint Ransom, Mercer County Airport manager said that the Mercer County Airport Authority held a pre-bid conference for the project on Thursday. “The bid opening will be on April 23rd,” Ransom said. “We should award the contract sometime this month.” Ransom said completion of the project would provide additional safety for aircraft that use the facility. Ransom said that the FAA is providing 90 percent of the cost of the taxiway project and added that the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission will provide the balance of the project costs.
“U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., called me (on Thursday) to discuss the taxiway improvements,” Ransom said. “It’s good that this project is attracting interest to the airport.”
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