Funding continues to fly into the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.
The office of U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who represents Florida’s 12th congressional district, announced last month that the airport had received a $2 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Funds will go toward pavement repairs and new LED lighting at Taxiway B, which hasn’t seen upgrades in about 20 years, according to Airport Manager Nathan Coleman.
Taxiway B is situated off the main causeway, and connects to the fuel pumps and the southeast side of the airfield. It is one of the airport’s five taxiways.
Coleman said the taxiway improvement project has been in development for more than two years, as engineering firms AVCON Engineering and AID (American Infrastructure Development) aided the airport with the planning and grant application process.
The $2 million grant — along with supplemental federal Department of Transportation funds — should cover about 98 percent of the project, with the airport contributing the remaining 2 percent of funding. “It’s a really good deal for the airport,” Coleman said.
The grant was available through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which funds various types of airport infrastructure projects, including runways, taxiways, and airport signage, lighting and markings.
Airports are entitled to a certain amount of AIP funding each year, based on passenger volume. If their capital project needs exceed their available entitlement funds, then the FAA can supplement their entitlements with discretionary funding.
The Zephyrhills Municipal Airport is one of four airports in Florida to receive funding for infrastructure improvements, joining Key West International Airport ($9 million), Orlando International Airport ($16 million) and Tampa International Airport ($9.3 million).
Nationwide, the FAA is awarding $290.6 million in airport infrastructure grants to 105 airports in 38 states.
Those federal funds are critical, Coleman said, particularly for smaller, general aviation airports that mainly attract single-engine planes as opposed to large, commercial aircrafts.
“It’s just a great way for us to be able to maintain our infrastructure,” the airport manager said. “I give tons of credit to (FAA and DOT) because without their help, it’d be hard for little airports like ourselves to really thrive and make it.”
Since 2011, the municipal airport has secured just under $9 million in federal funds. That includes a sizable $4.5 million federal grant in 2012, to repave Runway 4-22, which later became Runway 5-23.
Aside from the Taxiway B improvements, other major projects are slated over the next several years.
Coleman expects to rehab Taxiway A in 2019, and have a design plan in place for a new terminal building by 2021.
More long-term plans call for the installation of a taxiway along Runway 01-19, plus roadway additions to the southwest end of the airport.
The Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, near Interstate 4 and Interstate 75, is the only publicly owned and operated airport in Pasco County.
The airport currently has a waiting list for hangar space, Coleman said. The airport’s 172 enclosed spots include 137 T-hangars, 25 half-hangars and 10 shade spots.
Last year, a new hangar was constructed at the airport, for the first time in 16 years. The 10,000-square-foot hangar, owned by Thomas and Keith Morrell of TKM Aviation, is located on the northwest portion of the airport property.
Published August 2, 2017