Barge Project at Jack Edwards National Airport Awarded Federal Aviation Administration Funding

22 / July / 2020

Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA) was recently awarded a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant to the tune of $5,374,830 for the completion of an air traffic control tower facility, designed by Barge.

JKA is a long-term client of Barge’s, having worked together for over 25 years. Over the course of nearly three decades, Barge has worked on numerous projects, including a recently completed concrete ramp. For the air traffic control tower facility project, Barge has been responsible for civil site engineering, project management, client communications, and funding procurement assistance, teaming with AJT Engineering, Inc. as the project design specialist.

Currently a general aviation airport, JKA is the second-busiest airport in Alabama. The airport faces dangerous crosswinds, receives a variety of aircrafts – from helicopters and gyrocopters to Navy planes and Learjets – with varying approach and departure speeds, and welcomes both local and transient pilots. This control tower will increase the safety of all pilots, passengers, and JKA employees. Furthermore, the tower will help the airport transition from being a general aviation airport to a commercial airport with the ability to accommodate scheduled flights and air carrier services, significantly bolstering Southwest Alabama’s economy with additional tourist, business, and local travel.

The airport is located right off Highway 59, the main entrance to the Gulf Shores area. At nearly 90ft tall, the new control tower will become a landmark. For this reason, architectural elements such as a curved roof, balcony, and backlighting have been incorporated into the design.

While air traffic control tower projects are eligible for FAA funding, federal support for this type of project is rare. However, JKA’s high traffic volume and strategic location strengthened their chances. When pursing funding, Barge helped JKA staff introduce the project to local politicians to garner support and gather the necessary information to present for the FAA grant. This federal grant was strengthened by FAA’s CARES Act, passed to support airports in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions. Typically, FAA grants fund projects at 90% – with 5% being state responsibility and 5% being local responsibility. This act takes FAA funding to 100% of the project cost. JKA will use the funds initially set aside for their 5% portion to complete a study for a conceptual terminal design, one of the next projects slated to take JKA from a general aviation to commercial airport. Barge is also conducting this study.

Rendering by AJT Engineering, Inc.