Grant to kick-start improvements
The City of Port Aransas has won a grant of about half a million dollars to pay for engineering and environmental assessment work that is expected eventually to lead to a variety of significant improvements at Mustang Beach Airport, according to City Manager Robert Bradshaw.
“ TxDOT Aviation has stepped up and is offering the city a grant that will fully fund the initial phase of our five-year airport expansion program,” Bradshaw said, referring to the division of the Texas Department of Transportation that handles airport matters. “I think it’s very good news.”
The city got news of the grant earlier this month, Bradshaw said.
The grant will go nearly all the way toward funding $550,000 worth of engineering and environmental assessment work that must be done to prepare for improvements to be done.
The state would provide $495,000 of that amount, and the city would need to pitch in the other $55,000. The city council likely will discuss during upcoming budget workshops how to provide its share, Bradshaw said.
Asked if Port Aransas will come up with its share, Mayor Keith McMullin said, “I hope so. I haven’t had any conversations with Darla (Honea, the city’s finance director) or Robert (Bradshaw), but I think the intent is, we’ll find it.”
McMullin has lobbied the state and federal governments for airport improvements.
“We’re going to be pushing for airport improvements, as always,” he said.
The engineering and environmental assessment work will be the first part of a fouryear TxDOT plan for a few million dollars worth of improvements at Mustang Beach Airport, Bradshaw said.
The plan is for the engineering and environmental assessment work to be done in 2012 and then for $670,498 to be used for features including security fencing, lights, security cameras and runway repairs in 2013. The city would supply $67,050 of that, while the state would provide the rest.
The following year, the plan calls for $880,000 to be used for work going toward environmental permitting for a runway extension and environmental mitigation, according to documents provided to the city by TxDOT. The city’s part of that would be $88,000.
In 2015, some $2.99 million would fund work including taxiway extension and extension of the nearly 3,500-foot runway to about 4,200 feet. It also would fund replacement of the airport’s AWOS, or automated weather observing system. The city’s share would be $320,438.
Beyond the 2012 money, there’s no guarantee that the state funding will keep coming each year, because no one can predict with certainty what will happen with government finances from year to year.
“All we can hang our hat on is the $550,000,” Bradshaw said.
Still, the city manager said he believes the funding each year “probably will continue.”
Scott Gallagher, director of planning and programs at TxDOT Aviation, and Daniel Benson, an aviation planner at the agency, deserve a lot of thanks from Port Aransans for helping the city secure the funding, according to Bradshaw and McMullin.
“We had them down (visiting Port Aransas), and Robert and I had lunch with them, I guess about two months ago,” McMullin said. “This grant, I believe, was the direct result of that meeting. There were comments at the meeting that they liked the plan and were impressed with our vision and motivation for improving the airport.”