Leesville City Council delays planned airport improvements

Published 10:21 am Tuesday, July 15, 2014

City officials were forced to delay improvements to Leesville’s municipal airport on Monday after bids came in more than what engineers had estimated for the project.

During the City Council meeting, city officials heard competing bids to clear a hill at the Leesville Municipal Airport. Three bids were opened during the meeting with the lowest coming from Apeck Construction at $676,374, more than $71,000 over Leesville’s projected price. The project was estimated to cost $605,000.

The project, explained Leesville Mayor Rick Allen, will involve removing a hill near the safe landing and takeoff zone.

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“The ground has to be level with the airport or below,” he said. “There cannot be a hill of any kind for so many feet outside the airport. And unfortunately, our airport was dug into the side of a hill.”

The project would remove the hill, he said, and fill in a hole at the end of the runway. It would take approximately three months to see its completion.

The project will be paid for with grants from the state Department of Transportation Development and Federal Aviation Administration, according to Kyle Randall, a senior project manager with Pan American Engineers, who is overseeing the project. He said Pan American Engineers would seek additional funding to make up the difference between the low bid and the amount of funding currently secured for the municipal airport.

Allen said he was unsure of the difference between where the city was in securing grants versus how much the project will actually cost. If engineers are unable to seek additional funding, Allen said he would work to reduce the cost of the project so it could move forward.

Upon completion of the project, Allen said the city would be seeking funding to try and extend the runway in the hopes of one day having a functioning regional airport that could host larger aircraft. Currently the airport serves small private planes only.

“This is a step forward to where we want to be with the airport,” Allen said.

No date has been set for when bids will come back for the council’s review. (Special to the American Press)