City Manager Elizabeth Borstad told city council members on Monday that she has asked the Texas Department of Transportation about what kind of match is required of the city should it receive a grant to pay for expansion of the Athens Municipal Airport.
“I know that's one of those big projects that's hanging out there and we are working on it,” she said.
Borstad said she asked TxDOT officials how the property purchased by the Athens Economic Development Corporation for the expansion will apply toward meeting the city's grant requirement.
“I have not received a response from them yet,” Borstad said. “I have received a response that they are working on my response.”
Since 2013, the Athens Airport Advisory Board, city officials and Athens EDC have been a part of an effort to expand the runway at the facility. The expansion effort was started with the expectation of making it possible to land larger aircraft there.
In 2014, Athens EDC acquired 296 acres to aid the city in the airport expansion. Athens EDC officials agreed to pay Cuatro Rojos Land Properties $829,900.
The existing Athens runway is just under 4,000 feet long, which officials have said is insufficient for larger aircraft. City officials believe that places Athens at a competitive disadvantage with surrounding cities that have more suitable airports.
The airport master plan shows that expansion of the runway can be accomplished in three phases. The first five years is preparing for the new runway. The next five years is the start of construction, bringing the runway to 5,500 feet. The long-range plan would cover another 10 years, with the ultimate runway length being expanded to about 6,500 feet.
Thanasis Kombos, the city’s public works director, referred questions to Borstad.
Based on the plan, a preliminary estimate of the total cost is $24.8 million. City officials would like to get a 90-10 match on the grant.