BEAUFORT — Demolition crews began tearing down hurricane- damaged hangars at the Michael J. Smith Field Airport this week, kicking off a more than $4 million project to replace the structures.
The project is being funded by a $3.3 million Economic Development Administration grant, plus around $820,000 in local matching funds. The purpose is to rebuild 28 hangars that were severely damaged in hurricanes Florence and Dorian.
Interim Airport Manager Jesse Vinson said crews with Kernersville-based Webb Harrell Construction began staging equipment at the airport last week and started demolition work Monday. Weather permitting, the work should be complete within a couple of weeks.
“They’re doing a terrific job from what I’ve seen, so far,” Mr. Vinson said Tuesday.
One of the damaged hangar buildings will not be torn down right away because it contains the airfield lighting control vault, which Mr. Vinson said must be relocated before the building can be demolished. Before the control vault be relocated, the airport must select an engineering firm to oversee the project.
The facility received four bids for engineering services, with the bidding window now closed. Mr. Vinson said a committee is in the process of reviewing the proposals and will present its recommendation to the full Carteret County-Beaufort Airport Authority at an upcoming meeting. County officials are also involved in reviewing the bids, and EDA grant administrators must approve the contract before it’s finalized.
Mr. Vinson noted the airport has a relatively short timeline to carry out the hangar repair project. From the date of the grant award, which was announced July 22, the airport has 33 months to fully complete the effort.
“I’m hoping whatever engineer we select does not let grass grow under their (feet) in the coming days,” he said.
Site work construction on the new fuel farm project at the airport was also supposed to begin this week, but Mr. Vinson said Tuesday it is about a week behind schedule. That project experienced various delays that pushed its anticipated completion date from the end of the year to mid-February, but Mr. Vinson said it’s now on track to meet the new target.
The contractor will install permanent fuel tanks at the airport, eliminating the need to lease tanks from a third-party fueling service. The county loaned the airport $600,000 for the project, to be paid back over four years using non-primary entitlement funds from the Federal Aviation Administration. NPE funds will cover other project costs, as well, with a final price tag of just under $1 million.
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