Sept. 30--Huntsville International Airport has received a $15.75 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the largest grant the airport has ever received.
The money is for improvements to the east runway, airport officials said Monday. Construction should begin March 2014 and last one year. The work includes expanding paved shoulders, widening full-strength pavement and upgrading lighting and signs.
"A strong transportation infrastructure is critical to attracting new businesses and industries," U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said in a statement. "This important grant will help Huntsville International Airport make the necessary improvements to its runway, ensuring safe and trustworthy operations.
"Such improvements are essential for an efficient transportation hub, and for those traveling to, from and through Alabama."
Huntsville International is ranked 14th in the country for its international air cargo operations.
The runway work is to continue to meet FAA requirements for cargo carrier Panalpina to operate its regularly scheduled Boeing 747-8 flights. The 747-8 is the largest of Boeing's 747 series and the largest commercial aircraft built in the United States. In July, the airport reopened its west runway after a yearlong, $30 million construction project.
"This grant allows us to continue the quest to improve our infrastructure for Group VI and handle the large volume of cargo we see at the airport," said Rick Tucker, Port of Huntsville executive director. "We have a 10-year plan for total investments of $85 million to our runways and taxiways, because it is crucial for our region's economy and to stay competitive in the global marketplace."
Copyright 2013 - The News Courier, Athens, Ala.
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