After receiving a supplemental $15 million federal grant last week, the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport is a step closer to reclaiming a portion of Plank Road, adjacent to a runway, that currently prevents the airport from using the strip at its full capacity.
For the past several years, airport officials have been planning to establish a standard runway safety area by removing and relocating a portion of Plank Road, from the end of runway 31.
Until that’s done, the airport can’t use the runway’s entire length, but relocating the road creates the safety buffer necessary for the airport to utilize the additional distance airplanes need to do so.
Estimated at $50 million, the project also involves replacing the aging, 18-year-old Engineered Materials Arresting System with a new 200 foot by 200 foot asphalt blast pad.
Mike Edwards, the airport’s executive director, says original plans called for phasing the project over a four-year period, but that the grant should expedite the process.
“This funding will allow us to accelerate the design and construction process,” says Edwards, noting they had already received $6.5 million toward the effort in 2018 and expect another $10 million to come in 2019. “Initially, we thought something like this could save us 18 months and $1.5 million.”
Edwards says phase one of the design stage is about 65% complete.
U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, who met with federal officials to secure the funding, says he’s also working to secure a second funding source for BTR later this year.
“We’re viewing this as a deposit and part of our broader, ongoing efforts to help make BTR the airport that Louisiana’s capital city deserves,” Graves says in a prepared statement. Read the full project description here.