Reserve airport renovations enhance safety, community’s welcome mat

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, July 18, 2018

RESERVE — Improved accessibility for maintenance work and emergency response is coming to the Port of South Louisiana Executive Regional Airport as part of an ongoing initiative to use the airport as a welcome mat for business investors, officials said.

Termed the East and West Canal Crossing project, the endeavor involves construction of two limestone access roads with drainage culvert installation, including earthwork and fencing at the Reserve airport.

Airport Director Vincent Caire said the access roads would connect areas of the facility separated by large drainage canals that currently require a detour along Airline Highway.

“On the North end and left end of the airport, it crosses into an area that is, at this point, undeveloped,” Caire said. “When we’re doing work over there, whether it’s controlling drainage, cutting the grass or any other type of utility function, it allows us to cross the canal over the culvert.”

Fully funded by a grant from the Louisiana Department of Transportation Aviation Division, the construction is expected to cost between $120,000 and $160,000 and last 60 days, weather pending, after the bidding process concludes in August.

LaDOTD Director of Aviation Bradley R. Brandt said the East and West Canal Crossing project makes the Executive Regional Airport more secure.

“From a safety standpoint, it allows emergency vehicles and personnel to get to areas previously inaccessible in the event of any kind of aircraft accidents or other emergencies,” Brandt said. “We commend the Port of South Louisiana for thinking forward with all the work they have done at the airport.”

Brandt said the mission of the Aviation Department is to ensure airport systems in Louisiana remain self-sufficient sources of local economic development.

According to Caire, airport renovations are puzzle pieces in an ongoing five-year growth plan.

“There’s always something going on in an airport when it comes to improving the property, because airports are very active pieces of real estate,” Caire said. “The airport is a welcome mat to our economy. When someone flies into the River Parishes, they’re coming to invest in our area, not New Orleans or Baton Rouge.”

It’s important to offer seamless transportation to build positive first impressions, Caire said.

“When they get off the plane, whether they buy a soft drink or a two-week hotel stay, the sales revenue goes directly into the parish,” Caire said. “The first thing they see is the airport here in St. John Parish.”

Recent renovations included a taxiway extension project that allows airplanes to operate across the full length of the runway, Caire said.

A larger runway resurfacing project is receiving funding, and additional condominium-style T-hangars for airplane storage are expected to finish construction within a year.

Sealed bids for the East and West Canal Crossing project will be publicly read aloud at 2 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Port of South Louisiana Office, 171 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace.

A non-mandatory pre-bid conference will be held at 10 a.m. July 25 at 355 Airport Road in Reserve.