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Rogers Executive Airport will receive $5.8 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to strengthen the runway at Carter Field.

Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with Rep. Steve Womack, all R-Ark., announced the grant Tuesday.

Airport managers applied for the grant in August, but the process took more than two years of meeting prerequisites, such as studies for engineering and design, said David Krutsch, airport manager.

"We're extremely thankful for this FAA grant for a much needed project. It will enable us to continue growth of the airport, and we look forward to supporting the growth of Northwest Arkansas," he said.

The project includes a full-depth runway keel reconstruction, mill and overlay of the asphalt pavement, installation of pavement underdrains, crack repair, pavement grooving and fixing runway lighting, according to a news release.

The FAA classifies the airport as one of 84 national service airports in the country, which means it's near a major business center and its flights extend throughout the nation and world. It serves an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 business and leisure travelers per year. An economic impact study in 2014 reported the airport has an annual impact of $41 million, Krutsch said.

The airport doesn't have grooved pavement, but it's recommended by the FAA for airports serving jets to prevent hydroplaning and improving safety, Krutsch said. Rogers has 25 jets based at the airport, a number more typical of larger metropolitan areas, Krutsch said. The airport ranks seventh among general aviation airports in the southwest region, which includes Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico.

"We haven't had an extensive project in several decades," Krutsch said.

The airport began as a private facility in 1945 and was donated to the city in 1957. A team of local entrepreneurs used the airport for Operation Chicken Haul, which flew in 20 million broiler chickens and 50 million baby chicks between 1949 to 1959 to jump-start poultry operations in the area, Krutsch said.

Officials last upgraded the lighting in the early 1990s, and the last alteration to the runway was an overlay, much simpler than the planned work, in the early 2000s, Krutsch said. Improvements to drainage are new for the airport.

"Airports are a vital part of our nation's infrastructure and a driver of economic growth," Boozman stated in the release.

Womack agreed.

"Developing our transportation infrastructure is key to the continued economic growth in Rogers and our state. This investment will not only help meet the demands placed on and improve safety at the Rogers Executive Airport, but it will also support growth and commerce in the region," he said in the release.

NW News on 09/21/2016

Print Headline: Arkansas delegation announces $5.8 million grant for Rogers airport

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