CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman Regional Airport started a $4 million runway project on Sept 1 which is slated to be finished this December.
Airport Manager Ben Harrison said this project has been in the making for the last seven years, along with other projects that have been getting checked off the list to give the airport needed updates.
“We are doing a full rebuild on the runway and it’s called a full depth recompilation, or FDR–and we’re rebuilding it from the base up,” Harrison said. “Along with the runway, we are also getting a new LED lighting system and a new automated weather observation station, or AWOS. This runway project has been on the long-term plan, since 2014. The first projects of the five-year plan were completed two years ago and now we’re working through the next stage of our priority list.”
Harrison said with these types of improvement projects, one will be completed off the top of the list and then another one added to the bottom of the list, that way, there is always growth and betterment.
“This is what we call a (CIP) capital improvement plan,” Harrison said. “We laid out priority items years ago- with the board members and the FAA, and ALDOT working with us each year to complete the projects. The AWOS is extremely important and needs to be replaced.
Harrison said this AWOS system is what the National Weather System uses and will be extremely beneficial for the Cullman area. He also shared that for the remainder of the time that the runway is under construction, it will be completely closed.
“The runway is slated to be finished in the middle of December and everything is completely closed to fix wing traffic, but will be open to helicopter traffic,” Harrison said. “Many of our other tenants have temporarily moved– Wallace State, Skydive Alabama and others are not currently located here, but will be back in December.”
Harrison said the total costs for the rebuilding projects, include the runway, is just under $4 million dollars and AWOS is around $250,000.
“It’s going to be really cool here– it’s going to be a runway that will last for decades. We will get 40-50 years on this runway,” Harrison said. “We will have to do some surface maintenance in the future, but it will lay the foundation out for years. This took a lot of groundwork to get here. It took both the city council and county commission, the airport board. It took the FAA, ALDOT, our engineers, the staff, the tenants that use it, city and county economics, justifying the need for it. The biggest thing is the tenants that use it and businesses that come in and out of it. Without everyone and our airport staff, we wouldn’t be able to grow like we have. I want to thank them, all of them, because it’s going to pay off once it’s finished.”
Regarding revenue at the CRA via an annual impact study from ALDOT showed that the airport had 8578 visitors in 2020. It had an economic impact of $13.78 million dollars and over 700,000 in sales taxes. They spent $9 million and have 141 people that rely on it for employment. They also produce a $4.8 million in payroll for the companies that are based here, which includes Air Evac, the airport staff, Skydive Alabama, Wallace State and more.
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