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Chennault takes step to revamp taxiway

Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 9:04 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Officials at Chennault International Airport on Wednesday took the first step toward expanding the airfield’s taxiway into a second runway — an idea that’s been talked about for a while.

The Board of Commissioners OK’d plans to pay AVCON Inc. $227,525 for the preliminary design work on revamping the taxiway, which runs parallel to the runway and would be used as a backup.

The alternate runway, which will cost $7 million to $9 million, will be funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and the state. It will be 150 feet wide and 8,000 feet long.

After two years of discussing the possibility of a second runway, Chennault Executive Director Randy Robb said, this is the first thing officials have done on paper. “This is step one of actually putting the package together for the FAA, so that we can make it happen,” he said.

Robb said construction is expected to begin in September 2013 and be completed by spring 2016.

A second runway will allow Chennault to close down the main runway to do repairs without shutting down the whole airport.

“Occasionally Chennault needs to do concrete repair, which takes three days to complete before an airplane can land on the runway,” Robb said. “No one is coming or going in those three days.”

He said one runway presents “a scheduling nightmare” at Chennault.

“It impacts everything anyone does around here,” Robb said. “A second runway is really important. We have 55-year-old concrete and old lighting, so we need to sometime close the runway to make those repairs. Right now we’re doing repairs at night and paying premiums for everything.”

The second runway will be built at 80 percent strength because Chennault does not anticipate many landings.

Robb also said the second runway will open up more opportunities and potential investments at Chennault.

“We will be open all the time,” Robb said. “Single-runway operations worry some ... it will put their concerns at rest. We’re competing for some big projects. Chennault is working as hard as we know how to work to set conditions that will increase jobs and increase commerce in Southwest Louisiana.”

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