BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Mena Airport Commission approved a plan to shorten runway 09-27 by 490 feet, and will await final approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Gregg Shipley, of Morrison Shipley, the firm who has guided the commission throughout the building of a 40-year master plan for the airport, said it may take three to four months to get approval from the FAA for the project but he feels it’s a strong plan and fixes the issues at hand.
The 40-year master plan has been in the process for more than a year and puts a timeline to projects that are foreseeable in the next four decades. Making runways wider and longer are one of the facets of the plan and include the 09-27 runway project.
The current plan is to take the 09-27 runway, which crosses another runway, and ‘chevron’ off 490 ft, taking out the intersection. Chevron is the pattern used by airports to mark taxiways and runways. This particular chevron will alert pilots that the area is closed off to traffic. The project is expected to cost thousands of dollars, a sum that is not yet figured, but the Commission hopes to see the FAA assist with a large part of it.
Pam Keidel-Adams of Kimley-Horn, another firm that has assisted in the master plan process, previously explained that, “A big issue with the FAA is that this is a non-standard runway and the taxiway is too small with a blocked line of sight.” However, Morrison believes the FAA will be on board with the newest plans and hopes to hear an answer soon.
Another facet of the plan is to eventually re-add the 490-ft at the opposite end of the runway, and bringing it back to it’s 6,000 foot length, which is required for many of the larger aircraft that vendors located at the airport work on often. That plan, however, will be much further down the line.
Also at the meeting, the Commission discussed applicants and are still in the process of interviewing and hiring a new airport manager after longtime manager, Will Robbins, resigned before moving out of state.
The next meeting of the Airport Commission will be June 13, 2016 at 3 p.m. in the RMCC Board Room.