Regional airport looks to future with updated master plan

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East Texas Regional Airport is slated to continue with improvements after Gregg County Commissioners voted to approve the facility’s updated Master Plan, which includes an updated Capital Improvement Plan.

At a Jan. 30, meeting commissioners gave the go-ahead to the plan, which ETRA Director Roy Miller said must be updated on a regular basis to comply with Federal Aviation Administration recommendations.

“It’s a comprehensive master plan for the airport requested by the FAA,” Miller said. “We updated our 2007 plan. The plan looks at the airport’s current configuration and what its needs are, what its future needs might be and how to address those needs. It also sets up a budget to address those needs.”

The full text of the Master Plan, along with additional information, can be viewed at EastTexas.AirportStudy.com.

Each Master Plan describes improvement projects, updates and changes at the airport projected to happen over a 20-year timeframe. Miller said this block of time is broken down into increments and the airport is currently focusing on completing projects from the 1 to 5 year section.

“We’re looking at a couple of those projects,” he said, adding the airport may also seek to work on some projects from the 5 to 10 year plan in the near future as well.

FAA recommendations say facilities like ETRA should update their Master Plan every 7-10 years or as aviation conditions change. ETRA hired Coffman Associates, a national aviation consulting firm specializing in airport update studies, to head the project. ETRA will pay for 10 percent of the project; the FAA handles the other 90 percent. The Capital Improvement Plan lists ETRA’s improvement costs for Fiscal Year 2019 at $190,000.

A section of the Capital Improvement Plan describing projects planned for 2019-2023 lists the construction of additional taxiways, or roads planes can use to enter or exit a runway. Also planned is the construction of additional small hangar space.

Intermediate-term projects slated for 2024-2028 call for the construction of additional large hangars and new parking lots.

Approval of the update comes as another East Texas airport is also moving ahead with expansion plans.

At a Feb. 5 Rusk County Commissioners Meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to approve a project to extend the airport’s runway from 4,000 feet to 5,000 feet, opening up the airport to accept a wider range of aircraft.

Miller views the ETRA Master Plan as a way to plan the future of the airport as it adapts to the changing nature of aviation and the needs of the people who use the facility.

“I call it our road map for our development,” he said.

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