The Louisa County Industrial Development Authority is looking at paying approximately $30,000 for a $1.3 million runway light project for the Louisa County Airport, along with $220,000 for an estimated $1.4 million new terminal project.
These two projects have been on the IDA’s airport improvement plan for a number of years. According to IDA Chairman Bernie Estes, the lights have been in the plan for three years and the terminal for much longer at 12 years.
“The IDA and the airport manager have really brought this forward in the last year-and-a half,” Estes said.
The authority recently signed a federal grant agreement for the new runway light project. The Federal Aviation Administration will pay 96 percent of the project, the Virginia Department of Aviation will pay two percent, leaving the IDA to fund the remaining two percent.
Now that the grant agreement has been signed, the next step involves waiting for the FAA to give them an official start date. Once that happens, engineering work will proceed, according to Airport Manager Jarrod Powers.
Talbert and Bright of Richmond will perform the work.
The reason the FAA pays such a high percentage for projects, according to Powers, is safety.
“The two main goals of the FAA in airports is safety and security,” Powers said. “That is basically all they fund.”
The existing lights were installed in the early 1980s, and though considered state-of-the-art at the time, it has become more difficult and costly to find parts, Powers said.
In the next few years, the VDOA will no longer financially support maintaining the older lights, Power said.
Currently, if there is a repair or a needed replacement, the airport pays 100 percent of the cost. The VDOA reimburses 80 percent to the airport.
“They are no longer going to do that, and there is a time limit for doing antiquated lighting,” Powers said.
After the new lights are installed at the airport, the VDOA will then reimburse the airport 80 percent of the cost.
Since the airport has a 24-hour fueling station, Powers said it is important to make the airport as safe as possible for pilots.
Another plus with the installation of the new energy-efficient lights, Powers said, is it will help the airport lower its electric bill.
He estimated that airport’s cost for electricity in 2013 was $9,000. According to Estes, with the new lighting is expected to reduce the electric bill by one-third, or about $300 per month.
There are three steps in the proposed airport terminal expansion project, including architectural design, engineering and construction. The project is funded exclusively by state and local funds.
The IDA will bear the cost primarily by using monies collected from the sale of property the IDA owns.
According to Powers, the conceptual plan and the environmental portion of the project has been completed.
To read the entire story, see the Aug. 14 edition of The Central Virginian.