CXO Wants To Use Funds To Help Expand Runway
As state and local governments
across the US put capital projects on hold to conserve
recession-ravaged tax revenue, at least one Texas county is bucking
The Houston Chronicle reports that upon learning the federal
stimulus bill contains as much as $3 billion earmarked for aviation
infrastructure, Montgomery County Commissioners have voted to
increase local matching funding to speed up completion of a $9
million expansion at Lone Star Executive Airport (CXO).
Federal funds could be used to lengthen the general aviation
airport's current 6,000-foot runway 14/32 to 7,000 feet, which
would allow corporate jets to take off with more fuel, allowing
greater range. The windfall from the feds could enable the project
to be finished in 2010, a year ahead of schedule.
But the county has also asked Airport Director Scott Smith to
research costs and benefits of making the runway even longer,
beyond what federal matching funds would cover, to accommodate
large passenger jets used by US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement. That federal agency pays to house federal prisoners in
unused county jail beds. The county has a similar contract with the
US Marshals Service.
Smith has warned commissioners that the airport would also need
to develop on-site fire and rescue services, taxi and ramp
improvements, lighting and fencing, before ICE flights would use
The county's share of costs for the $9 million expansion to
7,000 feet would be $940,000, including funds for needed advance
studies. The airport's improvement plan also includes a new control
tower, upgraded runways and new taxiways and hangars. Lone Star
Executive is located about 37 miles north of Houston.
The US House and Senate have both passed versions of the
stimulus bill, and are now meeting in conference to resolve what
have been described minor differences between the two versions.
Meanwhile, Montgomery County commissioners are excited at the
possibility they might have a new economic development asset coming
online by the time the recession ends.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador comments, "It could be huge.
The economic impact would come earlier as opposed to later. The
timing is perfect. We are really excited about it. We hope it