Airport receives<br>$8.5 million grant

A new fire station, maintenance building and runway paving are all included in an $8.5 million improvement project to Grand Canyon National Park Airport.

This area, located at the midway point of the runway and near the new air-traffic control tower, will be paved and be the site of a new airport fire station and maintenance shop.

Along with the expected opening soon of the new Federal Aviation Administration airport control tower, airport manager Russ Pankey said it’s an exciting time for the facility south of Tusayan.

"In the next couple of years, things will drastically change around here," Pankey said last week. "Everything’s getting a touch of improvement."

The grant was awarded to the Arizona Department of Transporta-tion, Aeronautics Division, from the FAA in the amount of $8,754,924. ADOT operates Grand Canyon airport.

The fire station and maintenance building construction and equipment upgrade will cost an estimated $3.5 million. Besides the new building, there will also be the purchase of a new fire truck and snow plow.

"The fire station we have now is inadequate size-wise for training, an office and equipment," Pankey said. "We get a new piece of equipment and we don’t have a big enough building to put it in."

The lack of storage space has been a problem in the past. Plus, a building currently housing maintenance equipment has no heat and no door at one end.

"This new building is going to be a combination fire station-maintenance building and have probably four maintenance bays for snow removal trucks, storage of sand for de-icing purposes, administrative offices and training," Pankey said. "It’ll be built the way it should be. It will be located at the mid point of the runway, which will give us a response time of 20 to 30 seconds faster."

The administrative offices in the new building will be for emergency and maintenance personnel. Airport administration will remain housed in its current building.

Another estimated $2 million will be used to for a runway project. For the first time in several years, runway "3-21" will be rehabilitated, the airport apron will be expanded, reconstructed and seal coated and an access road will be upgraded.

"We’ll be doing ramp extensions at the south end, extend the ramp another 300 feet farther south and redo a portion of the ramp down there that was not touched on the last project," Pankey said. "We’re going to rehab and overlay the roadway system, the parking lot south of the terminal and in front of the terminal."

The road overlay will be the first at the airport since originally constructed. The runway will receive two inches of asphalt the entire width and length, and it will be repainted with new striping.

Another portion of the grant will be used for the installation of a high-tech security system. Such a system is part of the airport tower project and the rest of the airport will now be able to keep up.

"It will be a major upgrade of our security system with new gates and fencing on the whole perimeter of the air carrier side and some TV monitoring," Pankey said.

Finally, the 10-year-old airport master plan will be updated. The plan will include a study of the airport’s financial operation and will take a look at future development of all functions at the airport. Things like flight patterns and noise impact will also be part of the study, which will be subcontracted.

Kimley Horn and Associates of Phoenix was selected as the consulting engineers for the projects. The work is expected to be completed within the next 18 months.

ADOT applied for the FAA grant and had to go through a justification process. Pankey said the grant covers "most everything we asked for."

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