Dec. 18--MOUNT PLEASANT -- The addition of another hangar could lead to more business at the Schuylkill County Joe Zerbey Airport.
The increase could become a reality with the infusion of a $125,000 state grant approved by the state Transportation Commission on Thursday.
"It has a lot of potential," Bill Willard, airport manager, said of the grant.
Having the larger hangar will provide more clearance for aircraft and could lead to more business development in the county, Willard said Monday.
"This is the first step to the next level at this airport," Willard said.
The grant is part of $10 million in aviation and $25.8 million in rail freight grants announced by the commission for projects statewide. The 15-member commission looks at what is needed to maintain and improve the transportation system in the state.
The grants are administered by PennDOT's Bureaus of Aviation and Rail Freight, Ports and Waterways, according to a press release.
In addition to the $125,000 grant, the state had awarded $400,000 in grants previously for the Zerbey Airport project -- $300,000 in February 2012 and $100,000 in February 2013. The county also provided a $400,000 loan, and a line of credit that can be accessed through Miners Bank, Pottsville.
The state grants are reimbursement and matching grants, meaning the airport gets reimbursed when the funds are used and must have funds available for costs.
The $925,000 project will construct a 96-by-83 foot, 24-foot high hangar near the main hangar/terminal. The structure will eliminate seven parking spaces in the process.
Work could start in March or April and be completed in two or three months, Willard said.
"I'd like to be pushing airplanes in there by the middle of June or July," he said.
The latest hangar will bring the total space available for planes at the airport to 12. The airport's largest hangar, constructed in 1959, is 66 feet by 80 feet and is 15 feet 8 inches tall.
About 80 percent of the hangar space is used by general aviators. The other 20 percent is used for corporate planes, Willard said.
"Every hangar is filled. We are filled to capacity. We have no vacancies," he said.
The general contractor on the project is Dolan Construction, Reading. Electrical-related matters were awarded to Albarell Electric Inc., Pottsville. Sycamore Mechanical Contractors Phoenixville, will oversee the mechanical work.
Of the $925,000 cost, $781,851 is allotted for construction, $23,605 for permits, plan reviews and other work and costs for design, legal, advertising and other necessary requirements. So far, funds have paid for relocating electric lines, permits, fees and design work, Willard said.
The airport is classified as an Advanced Business Class Airport, Willard said.
The two runways at the airport -- a paved 4,600-foot-long and 75-foot-wide strip and a 2,375-foot-long and 200-foot-wide grass strip -- see a combined 18,000 to 22,000 operations per year, meaning a takeoff and landing per plane. These numbers include all flights, including those of the flight school at the airport.
The airport is also still seeking a $2.4 million federal grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to expand the larger airport runway.
"This is a gateway into this county," Willard said.
Copyright 2013 - Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.
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