A FedEx plane sits on the ramp outside the cargo terminal at Springfield-Branson National Airport March 29, 2022. FedEx is one of two major freight carriers that operates from the Springfield airport. (Photo by Rance Burger)

A couple of paving projects at the Springfield-Branson National Airport will result in thousands of cubic yards of cement being poured, and about $6 million in expenses up front.

Springfield Director of Aviation Brian Weiler gave an update on two crucial paving projects when the Airport Board of Springfield met April 22.

The first is a project for about $1 million worth of paving in front of the cargo terminal. The Springfield airport received a $500,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation Freight Enhancement program. The airport provided the other half of the funds.

“It relieves some short-term pressure as the cargo ramp continues to get crowded,” Weiler said.

Bidding documents disclose that the project will require about 1,700 square yards of 14-inch pavement rated for aircraft, and another 1,775 square yards of material used to build the cement-treated base course for the aircraft area. The ramp will extend south and west of the cargo hangar that freight carriers FedEx and UPS use to move cargo at Springfield.

Clarkson Construction of Kansas City is the principal contractor on the cargo project, which should be complete by the end of June, if not sooner.

“We have a new agreement with UPS for their infill of the south portion of the cargo building. They’re still in design and still working with them on that, so no turned out walls yet, doing work, but that will be coming,” Weiler said.

An extension of the ramp at the cargo terminal at Springfield-Branson National Airport will allow more airplanes to park at the terminal at the same time. (Photo by Rance Burger)

Cargo planes provide a key source of income for the Springfield-Branson National Airport, which is self-supporting through its own revenue. In the single month of March 2022, UPS and FedEx shipped more than 1.1 million pounds of cargo from Springfield, and deplaned more than 1.7 million pounds of cargo, for a total of more than 2.9 million pounds of cargo handled in a single month.

To date, the cargo haulers are 162,033 pounds of cargo — or 81 tons ahead of their three-month total from January-March 2021.

In 2021, the airport board approved plans to design the repaving of the general aviation terminal ramp and two taxiways that private airplanes and corporate-owned jets typically use when they fly in and out of Springfield.

RELATED STORies

At the airport, a different type of fire requires a different type of truck

Many Springfield residents, even frequent fliers, aren’t aware that the Springfield-Branson National Airport has its own fire department that is separate from the Springfield Fire Department. The Springfield-Branson Airport Fire Department is in charge of responding to accidents, fires and medical emergencies that occur on the airport property. Fire Chief Eric Sanders and his staff…

Taxiways are paths for airplanes at an airport. Pilots use the taxiways to travel from the terminals and ramps to the runway when taking off, and vice versa when landing. The paving will cost $5 million.

“This is a lot of older pavement up here,” Weiler said, pointing to the large stretch of pavement that sits in front of the general aviation terminal on a map of the airport. “We continue to work around and correct the pavement issues on the airport.”

In 2020, the Springfield airport received $5.9 million in federal grants to repave a taxiway and part of one of its two runways, at a total cost of $7.3 million.

The Federal Aviation Administration authorized the Springfield airport to put the new paving project out to bid.

“That’s a very good sign when they say it’s okay to bid,” Weiler said.

Weiler said that a preliminary bid meeting with contractors was somewhat encouraging, and that the airport staff will open bids for the paving project on April 29. 

“We’re worried about the bid environment and where it’s at,” Weiler said. “We are still waiting to get an entitlement grant offer from the FAA, there is just so much stuff going on on the federal side, a lot of uncertainty there, but we are hoping to get a grant as soon as possible after April 29.”

Two jets sit on the ramp outside the general aviation terminal at the Springfield airport. The aging pavement in the general aviation area will be replaced in the summer and fall of 2022, with a goal of having the work done by the end of October. (Photo by Rance Burger)

The Springfield-Branson National Airport’s primary funding source for the project will be its own entitlement funds, but the project still requires FAA authorization and a grant offer in order for the project to happen.

Weiler said that there is a chance he might ask the airport’s administrative board to hold a special meeting in order to approve the project, so that the start date can accelerate.

“We really want to be under construction if we can by July,” Weiler said. “It’s a tight schedule. We’d like to complete this this year, which would have us going into late October.”

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger