LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) - The Golden Triangle Regional Airport has been awarded with grant money totaling $3,430,000 for renovations which will soon begin to the airport's runway and taxiway, as well as a widening of the exits and entrances from the runway to the taxiway.
"The widening is new," said Mike Hainsey, executive director of the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. "It's to allow the much bigger airplanes a safety margin as they make turns on the runway and taxiway. The maintenance of the taxiway is routine but it's very costly to do over a mile worth of taxiway."
Currently GTRA is able to accommodate airplanes up to a Boeing 757 or an A320 Airbus in size.
Once the renovations are completed sometime in November, the staff here at GTRA and engineers will look over all the renovations and make a determination to see if they will be able to accommodate larger airplanes.
"We're going to re-evaluate that based on the widening of our exits," adds Hainsey. "We might be able to take larger ones, such as 767-type aircraft. They have an A340 that we would have to evaluate once the work's done. We'll have engineers take a look at what we can take."
As for passengers who fly in and out of the airport frequently, they say the enhanced safety measures will only make the flying experience more enjoyable.
"For me, flying out of a smaller airport, it will be nice to know that there will be more safety measures in place once their renovations are completed," said Sara Adams, Memphis, Tenn. resident.
"It's just so much easier to fly out of Columbus to Atlanta and to connect to other places," adds Sarah Crigler, Columbus resident. "I think it will just make it more comfortable and more safe for us to be able to renovate this area."
Work is expected to start in October and will take approximately 60 days to complete.
The Federal Aviation Administration is picking up about 90 percent of the cost, with the rest coming from Mississippi Department of Transportation and the airport itself.