Board Chairman Ray Miller estimates there have been about $20 million in improvements made in the past 10 years, and earlier this week, he announced the approval of another grant for $1.3 million for a 100,000 square foot apron with a cement base, overlaid with pavement. That will help accommodate more aircraft, and help the board make more progress toward increasing the use of the field for transporting cargo.
With the coming of Honda Manufacturing of Alabama and other larger businesses to the area, the airport has seen an increase in the amount of corporate executive use, in addition to cargo planes, which come and go on an almost daily basis.
Miller sees greater potential for the airport in the next few years. There’s room next to the site of the new apron for a large hangar facility, which could be used in a number of ways as a cargo transfer site.
“With I-20 so close to the airport, we’re sitting on a gold mine,” Miller said.
It’s a combination that can give our area a competitive edge when recruiting industrial development, and the continuing improvements at the airport are on target for corporate needs.
Except for race weekends, the airport doesn’t have enough traffic to keep the tower manned, but during those weekends it’s one of the busiest airports in the country. For some races, there have been as many as 350 aircraft in and out of the airport.
One of the other major upgrades in recent years was the installation of an instrument landing system by the Federal Aviation Administration, a ground-based instrument approach that provides precision guidance to an aircraft approaching and landing on a runway. In another improvement, the taxiway was relocated farther away from the runway, a change that upgraded the classification of the airport.
Future goals are to extend and widen the runway so the airport can accommodate larger aircraft.
Best of all, the improvements have been made without cost to the city of Talladega. They are usually accomplished with federal grants that require matching funds. The board brings in revenue from leases to make up the matches. Leases on hangars bring in some of that revenue, the ATAP facility is on airport property, and a water tower brings in revenue from both advertising and its use as a platform for communications antennae. The state of Alabama has also assisted with some of the projects at the airport, and the Alabama Department of Transportation is providing half of the matching funds needed for the apron grant project.
The airport board members have done a commendable job over the years of charting a course for improvements and developing a real asset for the area.