Augusta Regional Airport on Tuesday announced receiving more than $14.7 million in federal grants to improve and extend its taxiway, a project that officials say makes the airport safer and easier to expand in the future.
The money, a combination of Federal Aviation Administration entitlement and discretionary grants, will cover 90 percent of the airport’s Taxiway Alpha Rehabilitation Project.
The remainder will be split between the Georgia Department of Transportation and airport operating funds.
Airport spokeswoman Lauren Smith said the project will resurface the “A,” or “alpha,” taxiway along the north-south runway from the “B” connector – where it currently ends – to the “E” connector, where the airport’s two runways intersect.
Though the flying public will not notice the 5,000 feet of new concrete, the improvements should make the airport safer by giving taxiing planes their own dedicated lane, instead of the marked path that runs through the ramp area near the terminal.
Future funding could extend the taxiway past the E connector to the C taxiway, which is at the far south end of the north-south runway – the larger of the two runways and the one most often used by larger commercial jets.
The improvements also would make it easier for the airport to build a third runway, one of the projects outlined in Augusta Regional’s long-term master plan that is pending FAA approval.
“It puts us in position for future development,” Smith said.
The taxiway project is being overseen by Davenport, Iowa-based McCarthy Improvement Co. Work is scheduled to begin this winter and be completed next year.
Smith said the project is not expected to disrupt airport operations.
The $14.7 million award is the largest award Augusta Regional Airport has received since the inception of the Airport Improvement Program in 1982. The program, which pays for improvements to runways, taxiways, ramps and other airport infrastructure, is funded by taxes on airplane tickets and aviation fuel sales.
U.S. Rep. Rick Allen said in an airport-issued statement that he was pleased the federal grant will help ensure that Augusta’s airport infrastructure “is in top shape.”
“With exciting growth coming to the Augusta area, we are in the position to be one of, if not the most, important region in the country,” he said.