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State approves county project for airport hangars

By Robin Y. Richardson
Sept. 30, 2013 at 10 p.m.

The Texas Transportation Commission has approved a total of $839,986 in grant funding for the engineering, design and construction of new T-hangars at Harrison County Airport.

The project will be funded through TxDOT's aviation facilities grant program, which preserves and improves the state's general aviation system. The county's portion of the project is 10 percent of the total project cost.

"We're putting up $84,000 in cash in order to recover $30,000 a year in annual rent, in the future, to help support the operations of the airport," said Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor.

"It is another revenue source to continue to seek ways to make the airport sustain itself, which it has been doing, but expenses continue to rise," he said. "(Thus), we must find ways that are typical avenues that counties and cities use to raise revenue."

Funding for the project was approved by the transportation commission at its recent September meeting. According to TxDOT officials, a project consultant will be selected by this winter.

The new hangars will be an addition to the 10 other hangars that were built in 2010. Taylor said the county's portion of the project will be paid from the county's airport maintenance fund. He noted that the maintenance fund, which had balance of $196,541 at the end of fiscal year 2012, will still have a significant amount left after the project is paid for.

The judge said the county will first receive funding for solicitation of bids for the engineering portion of the project, which is $50,750. The county's contribution for that portion of the project is $5,075

"Once the engineering is complete, the transportation commission will approve the construction portion and we'll seek bids for construction," said Taylor.

The judge said county officials have been pursuing the grant for months. Back in February, the judge himself spent President's Day in Austin meeting with David Fulton, director of the aviation division for TxDOT, and other officials in regards to the construction of the new hangars.

"The initial request went out for a ten-unit T-hangar, but we have a little discretion, so we may propose that in the engineering phase; we may design a unit that has fewer small units and a couple of large units included where we could rent to larger aircraft," said Taylor, explaining that in the design and engineering phase, they can change the way the hangar specifications are built.

"That would be appropriate as long as the total cost doesn't exceed the estimate," he said.

TxDOT officials said, this year, the agency expects to provide approximately $60 million in funding for planning, constructing and maintaining community airports.



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