The Arkansas Division of Aeronautics (ADA) project team held a meeting at Black River Technical College in Pocahontas Monday where the ADA presented a comprehensive plan outlining an informed study currently being performed to decide whether or not Northeast Arkansas has an adequate need for a Northeast Arkansas Regional Airport.
BRTC Foundation Member and Executive Director of the NEA Intermodal Authority, Pocahontas Mayor Keith Sutton and BRTC President Martin Eggensperger were in attendance.
“I’m glad to be part of the conversation and if Pocahontas is chosen for an airport it would be great for the community,” Eggensperger said.
Their plan outlined on near-ana.airportplans.com, shows their assessment scope consists of five phases. Phase 1A is an analysis of regional socioeconomic factors, and key industries. The team will review historic and projected job, population, and income numbers.
The team will meet with local municipalities across NEA, like they did in Pocahontas Monday, where they discussed economic trends and forecasted changes with local community leaders, economic development officials, and key stakeholders.
The ADA will also meet with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Department of Transportation to discuss economic trends, new industries, and roadway access to NEA. The team will meet with key industries to discuss current and future air service needs in NEA. Industries included are food processing, steel manufacturing and universities.
Phase 1B is an analysis of air service demand. The team plans to review existing area service demand for passengers travelling out of NEA and review existing passenger ticket data, review how a new airport in NEA conforms with existing airline strategies, and how existing air service demand could change economic growth.
If phase 1A and 1B are found to be sufficient, then the ADA will move to phase 2, which is the selection of proposed airport facility requirements, then phase three which is site selection. Phase four will be the final step before production which is the airport master plan and development.
At this time the meetings are not about a possible location for a Northeast Arkansas Airport, but to determine whether there is a need for a NEA airport. The following counties are included in the feasibility study: Randolph, Fulton, Clay, Izard, Sharp, Lawrence, Greene, Stone, Independence, Craighead, Mississippi, Poinsett, Jackson, Cleburne, White, Woodruff, Cross, Crittenden, St. Francis.
The ADA’s project team is made up of ADA Airport Needs Assessment Project Team: Director of the Arkansas Department of Commerce-Division of Aeronautics Jerry Chism and Arkansas Department of Commerce-Division of Aeronautics State Airport Engineer Richard Mills.
The ADA has hired Garver USA to assist the study. Garver is an employee owned multidiscipline engineering, planning and environmental services firm located in North Little Rock. It employs more than 1,000 employees across the United States with 46 offices in 17 states. They offering a wide range of services focused on aviation, buildings, construction, enterprise solutions, federal, survey, transportation, water, and wastewater, Garver sits in the top 125 of the Engineering News-Record’s prestigious Top 500 Design Firms list and is consistently recognized as a best firm to work for, according to garverusa.com.
The Garver Airport Needs Assessment Project Team consists of Nathan Polsgrove, John Rostas, and Blake Roberson.
The ADA and Garver have set up a website so that each citizen will have a place to express their concerns or address any issues they see as feasible to help the project along. Comments and information about the study can be found at https://near-ana.airportplans.com.