It appears an end is finally in sight for the runway expansion project at Alliance Airport in far north Fort Worth.
After 15 years and tens of millions of dollars, the project reached a milestone Tuesday when the City Council awarded Virginia-based Lane Construction Co. a $61.9 million contract to complete the two runways and a taxiway. Lane, a heavy civil contractor, has a Fort Worth location and was the lowest of three bidders.
The expansion will allow bigger planes from huge global cargo carriers to take off from and land at Alliance, boosting business in Fort Worth and the region. Based on the terms of this latest contract, those flights could begin in about three years when the runways are slated for completion.
The first of three phases of work will begin this fall, a city report says.
“It’s huge,” said Bill Welstead, the city’s aviation systems director. “This is wrapping up a very large, $250 million, very demanding, very challenging project.”
There is a little hitch, however. The city has the money in hand for the first phase from the Federal Aviation Administration but not for the second and third phases. Fort Worth will ask the FAA for additional money in 2016 and 2017 to cover the remaining $26.9 million of the contract.
If the money doesn’t come in, the contract will be terminated. Welstead said it’s “very unlikely” that the FAA would not complete a project that it’s so heavily invested in. The FAA has covered about 90 percent of the project’s cost.
The city has $43.8 million in FAA funds to cover the $35 million first phase, leaving a balance of about $8.9 million to put toward the latter stages.
Alliance Airport, an industrial airport, is owned by the city and managed by privately held Alliance Air Services, a division of Hillwood, the developer of the 18,000-acre AllianceTexas industrial, office, commercial, residential and retail development.
Hillwood donated the land for the airport, which opened 25 years ago. The runway expansion had long been on the drawing board, but work didn’t start in earnest until 2000.
The runways are being extended to 11,000 feet from 9,600 feet. Initial project costs were estimated at $240 million. Current projections now total $250.5 million.
Besides the FAA, the Texas Department of Transportation and other sources have paid to buy land and move utilities, Farm Road 156 and part of the BNSF rail line that’s north of the runways. The railroad should begin using the new rail line in September.
Under the latest contract, the first phase will consist of dirt work to bring the areas that were previously Farm Road 156 and the rail line up to airport grade, as well as the completion of one runway and the airfield electrical infrastructure.
The second phase will involve more dirt work, the extension of the other runway and the installation of most navigational aids. The final phase will extend the taxiway and move part of Eagle Parkway and the perimeter road on the airport.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727