Lake Charles Regional Airport to get $1M in funding

Published 7:48 am Saturday, January 29, 2022

The Lake Charles Regional Airport will receive $1 million in CARES Act funding to help pay for the building and installment of a canopy that will span three lanes for arrival and departures.
Heath Allen, airport executive director, said Friday that a portion of CARES Act funding dedicated to the airport was amended on the federal level to be spent on the $4.12 million canopy project. Airport board members chose Alfred Palma as the contractor.
The lack of a canopy large enough to protect travelers from rain was one of the biggest complaints at the airport, Allen said.
“We tried to address it with a small canopy in the front, but it doesn’t do the job,” he said. “This new canopy will let our travelers load and unload their bags out of the elements.”
Allen said the airport has received roughly $20 million collectively from CARES Act and two other federal sources aimed at providing relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is being spent on operations and capital improvements at the airport.
The canopy project is mainly being paid for on the federal level through the CARES Act, along with Airport Improvement Program funding, which the airport receives annually, Allen said. A state match is included, and a small amount of local funding through customer facility charges is also covering the cost of the project.
Allen said the project went out for bids four times since 2020, with three coming in significantly over budget because of nationwide supply chain issues and high construction costs. One attempt resulted in no bids. Some minor elements of the project were removed to cut costs, but the bids still came back higher than expected.
“It’s been pretty typical for our bids to come back over,” he said. “It’s a tough market for construction. We have hurricane recovery on top of that.”
Allen said the project is moving forward despite being over its anticipated budget because the federal funding must be spent within a certain timeline.
Allen said the canopy will be manufactured off-site. Activity at the airport is expected to start within the next two weeks. The canopy should arrive at the airport around late summer, he said. Additional work includes a courtyard, sitting area and lighting in front of the terminal.
The Pittsburgh-based Michael Baker International designed the canopy, Allen said.