At a continuation meeting of the Airport Authority held on Tuesday at the Macon County Airport, the authority hosted a bid opening to choose a qualified contractor for the proposed runway widening that could take place in the fall.
At the authority's June meeting, Erik Rysdon, project manager for W.K. Dickson – a planning, design, engineering consulting firm based in Charlotte, N.C. – went into detail about the project and timeline it would likely take.
“We anticipate things to run smoothly,” he said. “We're going to be able to complete it over the span of about 45 days, with only one week of the airport being completely closed. We're looking at being operational during the day and carrying out the construction at night besides during that one week.”
The weeklong closing will occur to resurface the runway.
Three construction companies were present at the bid opening, each vying for the contract. Reeves Construction came in at a bid of $2,446,891.86; Watson Contracting of Franklin, projected a cost of $2,745,689.00; and Harrison Construction of Knoxville, Tennessee (rock quarry located in Franklin), estimating $2,665,116.20.
The board chose to proceed forward with the lowest price tag which came from Reeves Construction based in Augusta, Ga.
“It blows my mind that it costs more for the local company to get materials,” said Rysdon. “The difference in the cost of asphalt shows the difference we can see in the bids that were made.”
The bid will now be reviewed by Rysdon and colleagues to check for potential errors in calculations before being submitted to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for final approval.
Authority member Harold Corbin made the motion to accept Reeves' bid of $2,446,891.86 upon verification by W.K. Dickson and the NCDOT and contingent on available funding. The motion carried unanimously. The board will now have to ask the county commissioners about available funding.
As a result of the new construction, the existing runway would be expanded by 12 feet on each side and the runway itself will be rehabbed by overlaying it. According to Rysdon, the runway hasn't been rehabbed in about 30 years.
“The runway is well overdue for some updating,” he said. “In addition, we're also going to replace the lights on the runway. They are about 40 years old. If we replace them with LEDs it's going to reduce the power bill. They use about 30 percent of the energy that the current lights use.”
“We want to stress that these are much needed updates,” said chairman of the authority, Milles Gregory. “This isn't about bringing big planes in or adding a whole new runway like I think some people believe we're wanting to do. It is simply an issue of safety. We don't want any accidents happening. It needs to be a safe facility.”
The board discussed a purchase of a riding lawnmower that would be used at the airport. Corbin and Gregory informed the board of their meeting with the local Kubota dealer.
“The piece of machinery we looked at was originally $17,000 and we can get it for $13,250. We can get it financed for five years with zero interest. I think we need to move forward with this,” said Corbin.
Concern was expressed towards the county commissioners' approval of such a purchase by those present.
“I think it's very important that you get with your laision [Commissioner Jimmy Tate] and Jack Horton. Get their approval first,” said Joe Collins who serves as attorney for the authority.
At the present time, the county keeps the grass mowed. “It's important that we make sure the county knows we still need them though. Just because we have our own lawn mower, we still need someone to run it,” said member Tommy Jenkins.
After some discussion about the perks of having a lawnmower onsite, Gregory suggested that they move forward with the purchase.
“Well we can do it if that's what you all want to do, but if something down here breaks we don't have the money to fix it,” said member and treasurer, Pete Haithcock.
Corbin made the motion to move forward with the purchase of the mower contingent on funding.
“I'll second it, but we need to give a call to the liaison,” said Jenkins.
The motion carried unanimously.