Runway renovations complete in South Lafourche

Betty Matis
June 20, 2007
Rita Plaisance
June 22, 2007
Betty Matis
June 20, 2007
Rita Plaisance
June 22, 2007

The South Lafourche Airport in Galliano, which is operated by the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, has completed major renovations to its single runway.

On May 10, the commission finished lengthening the runway from 3,800 feet to 6,500 feet, and strengthening the entire runway with an overlay to allow the strip to accommodate aircraft weighing up to 75,000 pounds.

The runway formerly could sustain aircraft weighing 10,000 pounds when it was constructed in the 1970s.

The commission received a $1.25 million grant through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, which pays for renovations of general aviation airports, to build the overlay on the runway.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development funded 10 percent of the cost of the overlay, while the Commission added another $85,000.

The airport’s aircraft parking apron, located in front of the hangar and the terminal building, also was improved with an overlay to permit the apron to have the same weight-bearing capacity as the runway. The apron can park up to 16 aircraft.

The commission is hoping to receive money from the FAA to construct a parallel taxiway along the length of the runway, and to install an approach lighting system for the runway, said Airport Manager Jason Duet. The facility currently has no taxiway.

The approach lighting system would be constructed on the south end of the strip.

The commission is anticipating money from the FAA to prepare the area next to the runway for the parallel taxiway, and to widen the safety area on both sides of the first 3,800 feet of the strip by 500 feet.

The safety area for both ends of the length of the runway will be widened to 1,000 feet.

“We’re waiting to see how much the FAA will commit for the safety areas, and the site prep for the taxiway,” Duet said.

The commission has not been told by the FAA whether the airport would receive money for constructing the taxiway, and the approach lighting system. However, the FAA would fund $672,000 of the cost for the lighting system, with 10 percent more coming from the state, according to figures provided to the airport by the state.

The commission has spent $482,000 of its own money on the approach lighting system. The taxiway must be built before the lighting system is installed, Duet said.

When the runway was extended from its original 3,800 feet to 5,000 feet, the FAA funded over half the cost.

However, “the money wasn’t there to extend the runway from 5,000 feet to 6,500 feet,” Duet said.

Consequently, the commission pumped $1.9 million of its own money to extend the runway the needed 1,500 feet, along with $3,900 from the state Department of Transportation and Development.

Primarily because the commission expended a disproportionate amount of its own money to lengthen the runway, the South Lafourche Leonard J. Miller, Jr. Airport was named Louisiana Outstanding Airport of the Year for 2006 by the FAA, according to Port Director Ted Falgout.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon said in a news release that the airport “play[s]” a “vital role in supporting businesses in south Louisiana.

“The airport is a major support facility for nearby Port Fourchon, which has dramatically expanded in recent years to serve the booming energy industry on the Gulf Coast,” he said.