East Texas Regional Airport to get master plan update
March 13, 2017 at 8 p.m.
The future of East Texas Regional Airport took off Monday as county commissioners began the process to update its master plan.
The next step will be naming a committee to develop plans for short- and long-term projects to keep the county airport lined up with local economic development and travel needs in coming years and decades, Airport Director Roy Miller told commissioners.
Miller has worked under the current master plan since arriving four years ago. Improvements made under that plan have included safer drainage, a road around the airport perimeter, increased public parking, runway lighting and a $4.6 million renovation of the Henry Atkinson Terminal.
The Federal Aviation Administration funded from 90 percent to 95 percent of those projects, Miller said after Monday's meeting. An up-to-date master plan is required for consideration of future federal grants.
The FAA is slated to pay 90 percent for the master plan, estimated at $600,000, leaving the county to shoulder a $60,000 match.
"We have the funds available with the FAA to fund this," Miller said, after noting the federal agency recommends communities update their airport master plans every five years. Gregg County's last update was in 2007.
Miller said the plan will include three sections, looking one to five years ahead, five to 10 years and from one to two decades into the future.
He said it would take into account local economic directions and prevailing conditions such as the local effects of the on-and-off oil and gas market.
A planning and advisory committee staffed from chambers of commerce, local government, civic organizations and airport personnel will guide the plan.
"It's about a year-to-18-month process to do one of these master plans," Miller said. "It's an all-encompassing plan for how you develop your airport. (The FAA) uses that master plan, just like we do, to plan their funding. ... So everyone agrees these are the projects we're going to undertake."
That's paid off in recent years with the runway lighting, terminal renovations and other improvements.
"All of those were indicated in the old master plan," Miller said. "We're out of projects."
The first step now that the court blessed the process will be to seek qualified applicants to guide the job under FAA specifications.
"We hope to have everything (on that) done by the first part of May," Miller said.
In other action Monday, the court OK'd base contracts with eight engineering firms that responded to the county's requests for qualifications in roofing, lighting and other specific areas.
The process dealt with the months-long process each individual job entails by lining up each firm with its stated specialty.
"We've already done the (request for qualifications)," County Auditor Laurie Woloszyn said after the meeting. "This will save time, because sometimes we need to move rather quickly. It's much more efficient."
The process, which was OK'd by the county's legal counsel, will require merely a task order for projects rather than issuing a request for qualifications for each undertaking.
The law still requires that construction contractors hoping to do the actual work go through standard competitive bidding on job specifications outlined by one of the engineering outfits.