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Regional airport committee forwards projects

HIGHFILL --The regional airport authority's Operations Committee Wednesday gave an OK to several projects, including a major terminal renovation.

Other projects blessed by the committee include new overhead signs, security checkpoint expansion, reconstruction of a taxiway and a comprehensive landscaping plan. The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority's full board is expected to discuss the projects next week.

In other action

Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority’s Operations Committee met Wednesday and approved:

• The committee was told the low bid to expand the security checkpoint in the terminal was from Milestone Construction at $4.1 million.

• The committee recommended a $2.89 million change order with Emery Sapp & Sons for the Taxiway B reconstruction project and a $173,100 task order with Garver Engineering for engineering services.

Much of the cost of those projects will be reimbursed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The projects should also be eligible for grants from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics.

Source: Staff report

"There will be something going on for at least the next 10 years," said Scott Van Laningham, executive director. "The timing of all those things we haven't figured out yet."

Board members spent several hours talking with engineers and architects about the terminal expansion, which is expected to include a new rotunda, a skybridge from the parking deck into the terminal, office space and other amenities. The project is expected to cost between $25 million and $35 million, depending on which options are chosen.

Design of the space to be renovated comes next, and the hope is to have plans ready to bid in November 2019.

"Everything we're doing is giving you room for growth," said Larry Perkin, with Hight Jackson Architects.

Overhead signs around the access loop at the airport is expected to cost about $1.3 million, about $800,000 of that should come from money not used on the new parking deck because it came in under budget. The overhead signs will be based on the regional wayfinding signs.

"Consistency is huge," said Mike Johnson, chairman of the operations committee. "I think we're headed in the right direction."

Van Laningham said the signs should also make it safer to navigate around the airport.

The landscaping plan is still being developed, and the airport could get some help from the Walton Family Foundation, officials said.

Financing so many projects, waiting for reimbursements and keeping the books balanced will be a challenge, according to board member Stan Green.

"There's two factors, there's the overall cost of projects and then there's the timing of FAA reimbursement," Green said. "We might spend money in 2019, and, depending on how all that process works, we might not get reimbursed from the FAA until 2025. So, we have to have the capacity to carry it until we get reimbursed."

Another factor is how much of the total project costs the FAA will pay for, Green said.

"We need to figure all that out and factor it into our financial model and, so far, the financial model has been pretty simple and just assumed everything happens in one year and that's not the way it's going to work out," Green said.

NW News on 10/11/2018

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