Clarksville Regional Airport announced it has secured funding to resurface and upgrade its primary runway, improve safety by increasing taxiway clearances and upgrade runway markings, lighting and signage – a major step that will bring the airfield into full compliance with current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards.
For the first time in seventy years, the airport will be able to land aircraft of the same weight and size it was able to park by upgrading the runway to match weight bearing capabilities of the newly reconstructed apron in 2015. The $11.4 million improvements package is funded largely by grants awarded by the FAA and Tennessee Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division. The remainder of the project will be funded by a five percent local match split between the City of Clarksville and Montgomery County government.
Ninety-five percent of the $11.4 million funding is from two sources. The Federal Aviation Administration awarded $6.2 million dollars in discretionary funding and the Tennessee Department of Transportation – Aviation Division awarded another $4.63 million. It is anticipated that the $285,000 local investment from city and county government, will be offset by future economic impact generated by the improvements.
Including this $11.4 million investment, Clarksville Regional has been awarded more than $15.8 million in grants over the past five years. This has enabled the airport to achieve significant improvements in operational facilities to include a total replacement of the airfield apron for aircraft parking and two new helipads in 2015. Ten new T-Hangars for aircraft storage were added in 2016 with anticipated demand for up to 40 more in the future.
“The State of Tennessee and TDOT Aeronautics Division is proud to partner with the FAA to bring this significant investment in runway improvements to Clarksville Regional Airport,” Director of Tennessee Aeronautics William B. Orellana said. “We are pleased to see the progress being made in Clarksville which continues to be one of our most capable general aviation airfields in Middle Tennessee.”
The package of improvements will include complete milling and resurfacing of its primary 6,000 ft. runway. The resurfacing of the runway will also allow the airport to correct a gradient variation exceeding FAA safety standards and widen the space between the center line of the runway and taxiway to comply with the current 300 foot FAA standard for the size and current usage at Clarksville Regional. The runways will be resurfaced using a federally-specified aviation asphalt mix which is notably stronger, has substantially longer lifespan and has better weight bearing and break action capabilities than traditional asphalt.
In addition to the hard surfaces, the grant funding also allows the airport to significantly improve runway visibility on poor weather for pilots including upgraded markings and a new LED airfield lighting system. The resurfacing effort will allow the airport to upgrade its runway markings and signage to conform to current FAA standards. A new LED airfield lighting system, which will replace the current antiquated system, will provide greater visibility for pilots while lowering energy costs for the airport. Combined with existing solar panels and motion-controlled lighting at the terminal the airport’s investment in energy efficiency should result in even more substantial cost savings per month compared to current energy consumption.
Airport operations will continue during the projected nine month construction. Phasing the project and use of the secondary runway will hold necessary runway closures to less than a few weeks. All heliport traffic will continue normal operations during construction.
“The fact that we have been able to secure such significant funding from the State of Tennessee and FAA is a testimony to Clarksville’s regional importance to the future of air travel in Middle Tennessee,” Clarksville-Montgomery County Airport Authority Chairman Sammy Stuard said. “These runway improvements are a tremendous investment in the future of Clarksville Regional Airport.”
The runway improvements fulfill an important goal of the airport’s development plan and will allow Clarksville Regional to support additional aircraft and traffic volumes which are key economic development advantages. The improvements will also allow the airport to remain in compliance with FAA standards for the next 40-50 years, a major factor in any plans to expand the runway to support commercial traffic and scheduled airline service, which remains a long-term goal.
“We are delighted with Clarksville Regional’s continued improvements and in particular these upgrades to the runways which allows support for additional commercial aircraft,” remarked Cal Wray, executive director of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Economic Development Council. “The amenities available at the airport continue to be a key driver of economic development activity.”