Aviation commission approves plans for phase two of apron project

The Pine Bluff Aviation Commission accepted a the $244,258 low bid Thursday from Redstone Construction Group of Little Rock for phase two of a project to refurbish the aircraft parking area or apron.

Grider Field Pine Bluff Municipal Airport Manager Doug Hale said that the work is expected to take three to four months to complete once it begins later this summer.

A grant request has been sent to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval, he said, after which, the Pine Bluff City Council Traffic and Aviation Committee and full city council will also consider the proposal.

Hale said that the asphalt section of the apron was repaved in phase one of the project, which was completed earlier this year.

“The ramp area is composed of asphalt and concrete and they will be working on the concrete section this year,” Hale said. “The areas where the four corners of the concrete sections come together end up with cracks where the ground shifts over time and water freezes during the winter. These cracks lead to what we call foreign object debris, which can be sucked up by a plane’s props.”

Hale said that 90 percent of the project cost will be paid by the FAA and 10 percent by the city. He will file a request with the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics for a grant to reimburse the city for its 10 percent share.

In other business, Hale said that an access road project is close to completion. The $131,457 project was funded by a 90 percent grant from the ADA, with the city picking up the remaining 10 percent.

“This project includes removing a curve in the existing road to permit future hangar construction when needed, as well as establishing an adequate base and pavement for heavy vehicle traffic,” Hale said.

Hale said that vehicles including fuel transports, fertilizer trucks, garbage trucks and emergency vehicles will be using the roadway.

Hale said the airport has also been awarded a grant from the state’s General Improvement Fund through the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District to construct a public restroom on the airport’s south ramp area.

“This will be a very nice amenity for our airport to have at our self-fueling pumps,” Hale said. “This facility will help us to further market our airport and attract new customers.”

Hale said that Joe Brown Construction was the low bidder for the project at $42,630. Construction is expected to start in the next few weeks.

Hale said that the aviation commission approved a financial audit for 2013 conducted by Porterfield Killingsworth CPA firm.

“Their findings were that our finances were in order and there were no substantial financial discrepancies,” Hale said. “The audit findings were submitted to the city clerk’s office last Friday ahead of the June 30 deadline.”

Hale said that Joy Blankenship was elected as the new commission chairwoman, replacing outgoing chairman Michael Sizemore.

“Sizemore is being replaced on the commission by Rocky Thornburg, a local agricultural aviation pilot who grew up in Pine Bluff and learned to fly at Grider Field,” Hale said.