The airport officially names the completed runway | New

It’s been open to traffic since January, but Cullman Regional Airport’s completely refurbished main runway had to wait for some landscaping and other ancillary finishes before it was officially celebrated.

That’s how director Ben Harrison sees it, having steered the $4 million project alongside board members to completion after years of preparation, lots of site management and miles. administrative paperwork. “We had additional things with this project that we wanted to complete beyond the paving itself,” Harrison recently explained to The Times, adding that the project needed final aesthetic and functional work before it finally looked as good as the smooth tarmac surface. feels.

With the surrounding turf now laid and a full nine months of daily operation under its belt, the time to show the runway came this week, as members of the airport board, management and elected leaders of the region have finally cut the ribbon on the completed runway project.

The extensive reclamation involved closing the runway and completely clearing the previous tarmac before rebuilding the 5,500-foot-long, 100-foot-wide airstrip, and marked a major planning milestone for the general aviation facility – the one that allows airport planners to turn the page to the next chapter of improvements to come.

Those improvements could eventually include a 1,000-foot extension to the runway, which was first laid — with only incremental surface improvements since — when the jointly administered city-county facility opened in 1958.

Harrison noted that a handful of the original airport board members who helped get the airport off the ground more than 60 years ago were in attendance for the Oct. 20 ribbon unveiling, having witnessed over the decades the airport’s growing role in supporting Cullman County around the world. integrated economy.

Whether in the sky or on the ground, seeing through the distance is essential for smooth landings – and smooth planning. With the runway complete, the airport is curbing capital investment this year by working with engineering partner Goodwyn Mills & Cawood to update the facility’s Airport Development Plan (ALP), a document main which provides an update on all open areas in the future. improvement on site, while aligning with current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines.

“We don’t want to follow the standards, we want to set the standards,” Harrison told The Times on Friday.

The ALP is more than just a plan, however: it is also a crucial piece of strategic information as leaders consider opportunities for securing future funding. Of the total $4.2 million cost of the runway project, $3.6 million came in the form of an FAA grant, while a portion of the remaining $600,000 was provided by the Alabama Department of Transportation, City of Cullman, and Cullman County. “The idea,” Harrison said recently, “is to always keep everyone informed well in advance and always have five years of plans in there.”

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 234.

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