Federal grants announced for XNA, other Arkansas airports

The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) will receive a more than $3.43 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Also, six other Arkansas airports will receive almost $1.5 million in federal grants.

The funding for XNA will be used to continue upgrades at the airport, including the widening of a taxiway near Concourse A for larger aircraft to access the backside of the concourse and the purchase of a power sweeper to keep the airfield clear.

Funds will also be used to update the existing master plan and identify future growth and development needs. Finally, the grant will be used to reimburse costs expended during the expansion of the terminal building.

“Northwest Arkansas Regional served over 1.1 million passengers last year,” U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, said in a statement. “This grant funding will ensure that XNA can continue to provide safe and efficient trips for these and the growing number of travelers who visit Northwest Arkansas for business, for leisure, or for both.”

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said the XNA grant will help the region’s economy continue to grow.



“As Northwest Arkansas continues to grow, the infrastructure must be able to sustain the region’s rapid transformation. This grant will help move the recent expansion at XNA, which has already improved efficiency and safety for travelers, to the next level and, in turn, bring additional economic development to the area,” Boozman said in the statement.

Kelly Johnson, director of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority, said the grant is “much-needed” at the airport.

For the first six months of the year, XNA enplanements total 285,183, up 3.18% compared to the same period in 2012. Traffic gains are trending positive at the airport. Enplanements were up 2.42% during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the 2012 period.

Enplanements could tick higher,  American Airlines is adding non-stop flights from Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport to Los Angeles International Airport in Southern California starting Aug. 27.

"Our sincere thanks go to our Congressional delegation and our partners at the FAA for their continued support,” Johnson said.

An ongoing runway reconstruction project at XNA is on schedule with a targeted completion in the spring of 2014. The project includes replacing the original runway and making other drainage and lighting improvements. The project was initially funded through three, $10 million federal grants.

Following are other airports receiving federal funds according to the Tuesday announcement from Arkansas’ Congressional delegation.
• Benton
Saline County Regional Airport will receive $350,000 to rehabilitate, rejuvenate, and seal coat the runway and general aviation apron.



• Brinkley
The Frank Federer Memorial Airport will receive $388,124 to rehabilitate its apron. The existing pavement has reached the end of its useful life.



• Heber Springs
The Heber Springs Municipal Airport will receive $265,937 to update its runway lighting system, which is needed for safe airfield operations during low visibility conditions.  Funding will also be used for a new runway vertical/visual guidance system to make the airport more accessible.



• Helena-West Helena
The Thompson-Robbins Airport will receive $180,000 to rehabilitate the current taxiway lighting system.



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• Mena
The Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport will receive $212,130 to rehabilitate its connector taxiway pavement.



• Stuttgart
The Stuttgart Municipal Airport will receive $92,232 to rehabilitate the apron pavement. Funds will also be used for drainage improvements, which will help the airport better handle storm water runoff.

“Arkansas’s rural communities rely on their local airports for business and travel,” U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said in a statement. “These grants will ensure our airports have the resources they need to provide safe, efficient, and accessible transportation.”

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