Meridian Star
Meridian Airport receives $1M FAA grant for improvements
By Whitney Downard
The Meridian Airport Authority will make improvements to Key Field thanks to a $1 million improvement grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.
These grants, earmarked for infrastructure construction, safety improvements and equipment acquisition, according to a news release from the office of Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).
“Improving airport infrastructure is necessary to ensure safe operations and helpful in promoting local airports for economic growth. Several of these grants, particularly hangar and terminal construction, are intended to help rural airports become more self-sustaining aviation facilities,” Hyde-Smith said in a statement.
In Meridian, the grant will assist with apron and access road expansion as well as equipment acquisition.
John Acklen, the director of finance at the airport, said that the grant would cover the purchase of a pavement sweeper and expand the parking apron for airplanes in addition to the access road expansion.
"As far as parking is concerned we're just about out of space for airplanes," Acklen said.
In a legal notice submitted to The Meridian Star, the authority advertised for sealed bids for a new access road and aircraft apron construction. The project would take "approximately 6,590 square yards of 8-inch portland cement concrete pavement, 2,100 square yards of 5 inch portland cement concrete pavement, 6,000 tons of size 610 crushed stone and approximately 11,500 cubic yards of borrow material."
According to the notice, this project will "construct a new access drive and aircraft apron in support of a future hangar expansion at Meridian Regional Airport."
The project follows last year's parking lot upgrades and $563,097 from a grant last year that went toward reconstructing part of a taxiway, replacing guidance signs and improving drainage.
"One million sounds like a lot but when it comes to airplanes... one million doesn't go very far," Acklen said.
This year's FAA grant is part of $6.32 million in grants distributed to 15 Mississippi airports, ranging from $76,500 to $1 million in grants, according to the release.
“These FAA grants will help preserve and expand the capacity of our state’s airports to provide residents and visitors with a fast, safe, and efficient transportation option,” Sen. Roger Wicker said, according to Hyde-Smith's statement. “Reliable air service is not only convenient but will also help bring more tourism and business investment to all parts of Mississippi.”
Other airport receiving grants include:
•    Golden Triangle Airport, $1 million
•    Hawkins Field Airport, $924,430
•    Greenwood-Leflore Airport, $863,836
•    Fletcher Field Airport, $429,000
•    Stennis International Airport, $350,000
•    Poplarville-Pear River County Airport, $304,411
•    Panola County Airport, $259,110
•    Tishmingo County Airport, $237,920
•    Calhoun County Airport, $224,235
•    Winona-Montgomery County Airport, $216,000
•    Monroe County Airport, $198,000
•    Belzoni Municipal Airport, $150,000
•    Holly Springs-Marshall County Airport, $94,500
•    Booneville-Baldwyn Airport, $76,500