Runway improvements could mean big growth for Trent Lott Airport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Runway improvements could mean big growth for Trent Lott Airport

Economic officials believe runway improvements could attract big businesses with bigger payloads and create a long period of economic growth for the region. (Photo source: WLOX) Economic officials believe runway improvements could attract big businesses with bigger payloads and create a long period of economic growth for the region. (Photo source: WLOX)
PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

The Trent Lott International Airport stays busy, but one big hiccup has kept it from getting much busier.

“Every year, we receive requests on who can operate here. The location is perfect,” said airport director Carol Snapp. “And then we start talking about the runway.”

It’s just too small. But, Snapp said $6.85 million in Restore Act funding announced this week will fix that, and more.

“We have to turn a lot of people away,” Snapp said. “This will open the door to new businesses, some that we're not even aware of.”

That includes a potential passenger service Snapp would like to add.

The runway will be widened to 150 feet and strengthened to accommodate air craft up to 220,000 pounds. Right now, there’s no need to lengthen the runway, which is 6,500 feet.

The work will also include the far north and south connectors.

The airport already has a long list of government and corporate clients that use the site for training and to house small aircraft for business use. In fact, the airport is now expanding its hangar space.

But, missed opportunities have been plaguing the site and keeping it from adding more companies, like Northrop Grumman's unmanned systems facility.

Jackson County Economic Development Foundation Director George Freeland said the change will be transformational, and landing the money wasn’t a matter of luck.

“We were able to make a compelling case to Gov. Bryant's office through MDEQ and the Restore Act process that this project would better position the facility, the airport, and the community to compete,” Freeland said. “Not just tomorrow, not next year, but for decades to come.”

Officials anticipate construction to be complete by the early part of 2020.

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