Ennis Ford Perfect Drive
Ennis Daily News

New airport on horizon

Despite being several years into the process of building a replacement airport for the one currently in use in Ennis, City Manager Steve Howerton said it is still “several years at very best” until construction is started on the new facility.
Howerton said members of Coffman Associates Airport Consultants spoke with the city on Wednesday and said good progress is being made in completing the Environmental Assessment and Master Plan. Although Patrick Taylor, a Coffman consultant, originally said last summer the Master Plan and Environmental Assessment wouldn’t be completed until probably April of 2009, Howerton said public information meetings – such as the ones held at the Ennis Public Library after completion of the Feasibility and Site Selection studies – could be held sometime in January, February or March.
Following these meetings where public input can be given on the design of the Site Plan or results of the Environmental Assessment, the Aviation Department of the Texas Department of Transportation will review and possibly approve the findings, followed by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Because of the instability of the national economy currently, Howerton isn’t quite sure how long it will be until the airport is built and ready for use. According to Howerton, money from the state’s Airport Fuel Fund finances projects such as Ennis’ replacement airport, and he doesn’t know if the present instability of the economy will impact the fund and result in the money being reallocated to other projects.
The replacement airport is slated to be placed at what is called Site E, recently dubbed the Motorplex Site due to its proximity to the Texas Motorplex to the west. The spot considered is north of Hwy. 287, west of the current airport.
The replacement airport would cost the city 10 percent of the projected overall price tag with both state and federal funding programs, including grants from TxDOT and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), absorbing the additional 90 percent. In addition, city leaders have said an increase in taxes will not be necessary to accomplish this project.
“The economic impact on the city is a big benefit,” Howerton said at the feasibility study meeting held in August 2005. “This is a calculated investment that will give a calculated return.”
Ennis Municipal Airport currently provides a 4,000-foot runway, aircraft hangars and limited aviation services. According to Taylor, a community will typically expand an existing facility to meet projected aviation demands, but the current airport’s biggest constraint is its physical location.
Although the runway at Ennis measures 4,000 feet, its expansion proves difficult because it borders FM 1722 and Clark Lake.
A substantial investment in re-routing the road as well as the acquisition of more than 100 acres of land would be needed to expand the runway.
Clark Lake poses a significant challenge to any expansion because of soil conditions and wildlife.
The city had to improve the pavement at Ennis Municipal Airport due to a hump on the runway caused by poor soil and drainage. The cost of the construction was $900,000 and Dmyterko suspects this is a problem that will occur again, possibly before the end of the pavement’s useful life.
The lake also attracts large waterfowl that can cause a danger for aircraft on approach to Runway 33 or departing Runway 15.
Howerton has said the replacement airport would be one of the key cornerstones of Ennis’ economic development, along with the new Ennis Regional Medical Center, the completion and expansion of the 287 bypass and Ennis Industrial Park.

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Posted by on Sep 29 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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