North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field is $350,000 closer towards its goal of updating the airport’s master plan and pavement management plan. The Texas Department of Transportation’s approved the funding for NTRA in June and formally announced the grant Wednesday morning.
The master plan — a guiding document for future growth and development at the airport — was last updated in 2010, but recent growth and increased traffic at the airport created the need for the update. This new plan could set the stage for other improvements at the airport in the future, officials said.
“Our volume has surpassed what that plan saw — we simply have outgrown it,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said Wednesday. “People forget that NTRA is an outlier. Most general aviation airports have been declining but our volume is increasing.”
Airport master plans typically have a lifespan of about six to eight years, but this can change based on growth, NTRA Airport Manager Bob Torti said. The nearly 200-page document includes demographic data, expected growth patterns and other analysis that can help airport officials determine what projects should be pursued based on what traffic and what kinds of aircraft are likely to utilize the airport.
“It is not the Bible, but it is a very strong recommendation of how we should build the airport,” he said.
Despite being discussed and approved by TxDOT officials earlier this summer, the grant funding dates back nearly four years, Torti said. Each year, the airport receives about $150,000 in funding for projects through TxDOT. It was recently discovered that the airport had not collected or used these funds for the past four years and was at risk of losing them over the next year.
“It really was lucky timing that we discovered this when we did,” Torti said.
The airport initially invested about $250,000 of funds in purchasing land that encroached into the right-of-way for the airport’s runway, leaving it with the remaining $350,000 that it was awarded this week.
Officials with the airport then approached TxDOT with a list of projects it would like to pursue, including a new entrance on the west side of the airport, with the remaining funding. However, the transportation department instead asked that the funds be used to update the plan before any new projects are pursued.
In addition to the master plan, the airport will also be pursuing a pavement management study to determine the current condition of the runways at the former military base. While the airport was originally meant to handle large military aircraft, Magers said it has been decades since the conditions have been assessed.
Through this study, consultants will be able to tell airport officials what kind of aircraft the current runways can handle, and the lifespan of the pavement based on what aircraft utilize the space.
“What I like about this is we will finally know what we have out here,” Magers said.
The condition of the runways at the airport has been a recurring focus for airport officials in recent years. Last year, the airport completed repairs and a repaving on the second, 4,000-foot parallel runway. This allowed the facility to operate both of its parallel runways for the first time in more than 45 years.
Magers said the opening of the second runway likely was a factor in the decision by TxDOT to push for the new plans, but the larger factor likely was the airport’s participation in the Federal Aviation Administration’s contract tower program in late September.
The program moved the funding responsibility for the airport’s tower away from Grayson County to the FAA and has allowed for an expansion of service. This in turn has led to increased interest in the airport from outside interests.
“All eyes are on us right now,” Magers said.