Fort Smith Regional Airport will use a $2.02 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for infrastructure improvements, including runway rehabilitation and enhancement. U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, and U.S. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., announced the DOT grant on Tuesday.
“The Fort Smith airport is a gateway to the River Valley,” the legislators said. “Our region continues to grow, and it’s important local aviation facilities keep pace with future needs. This infrastructure investment will drive economic development and opportunities throughout the greater valley area, while also upgrading facilities to ensure the safety of travelers and pilots from take-off to landing. We remain committed to securing resources for modernization efforts throughout Arkansas.”
The DOT grant will be disbursed through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, which provides money for the planning and development of public-use airports that are significant to national air transportation. The project will consist of milling the existing asphalt and repaving the 8,017-foot-long runway. It was previously resurfaced in 1996.
“We are extremely grateful for this critical infrastructure investment,” said Michael Griffin, airport director for Fort Smith Regional Airport. “The funding will be used to resurface Runway 7/25, which is our most used runway at the Fort Smith Regional Airport. The upgrades to this 8,017-foot runway will directly support our facility, jobs and community.”
Fort Smith Regional Airport is the third-largest commercial airport in Arkansas. In February, enplanements fell by 62% to 2,533, from 6,675 in the same month in 2020. Enplanements comprise passengers flying out of the airport.
On March 15, federal legislators announced the DOT awarded more than $1.4 million in stimulus money to airports, including $1.26 million to Fort Smith Regional Airport. The stimulus money is separate from the new grant from the DOT.