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Pryor Field expanding ramp space, building for the future

DECATUR – Pryor Field Regional Airport, strategically placed beside Calhoun Community College between Decatur and Athens and just west of Huntsville, styles itself as the gateway to north Alabama and the Tennessee Valley.

Following the ongoing development that is unfolding in this part of the state, the entry port is one of the fastest-growing of its kind and getting bigger. Pryor Field broke ground recently on a new taxiway and access road on the northwest side of the airport.

(Pryor Field Airport Authority/Contributed)

According to a news release, the project represents the opening phase of what will ultimately become the airport’s cargo ramp, totaling 188,000 square feet of ramp space. The entire project is being constructed to accommodate Boeing-737 or military aircraft, such as the C-130.

“Pryor Field handles a tremendous amount of on-demand freight for partners in the North Alabama area as well as several from Tennessee,” Pryor Field Director Adam Fox said. “Our northwest development will not only allow us to facilitate our freight operations, but also provide space for businesses to build facilities to accommodate their needs.”

The Airport Authority has received four Letters of Intent from companies looking to build on the northwest side of the airport. The Airport Authority recently approved plans to construct a 12,000-square-foot hangar facility with classroom space north of the airport’s terminal building. 

As part of the transaction this year, the Airport Authority Board approved a 25-year lease with a 10-year option with Acquisition Integration for a maintenance, repair and overhaul operation at the airport. AI is a distribution, logistics and services company serving the commercial and military aerospace and vehicles industries. It has developed a four-phase plan to build 170,000 square feet of hangar and office space at Pryor Field, investing nearly $30 million and creating approximately 250 jobs.

“We do not know the estimated economic impact of this taxiway expansion project as of right now,” Fox told 256 Today. “We have numerous Letters of Intent that indicate as many as 85 jobs through phase one. We will continue working in this area of the airport for numerous years as funding becomes available.

“This part of the airport will ultimately become the airport’s cargo apron. We could have as many as seven hangar facilities built adjacent to this ramp once complete.”

The airport taxiway and access road project was awarded to Wiregrass Construction, with an estimated project cost of $2.6 million. The Airport Authority received $1,315,555 in grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration, $73,086 in grant funding from ALDOT Aeronautics, and a $1,239,107.86 bank bond to match the grants from the Authority. 

“Airports have one chance to build the airport for the future, and we feel like the northwest development is the only location for numerous companies and individuals we are in conversations with,” Fox said. “Time was of the essence to build the infrastructure needed to capture these expansion opportunities at Pryor Field.

“I’m glad to have the support of the Board to do what was needed to begin this project and position the airport for future success.”   

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