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An expansion of the cargo apron of the Springfield-Branson National Airport will be funded with a $500,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Springfield City Council approved an ordinance to accept the grant from MoDOT’s Freight Enhancement Program at its Sept. 23 meeting.
The $500,000 grant will be matched by $500,000 in airport funds to allow the extension of the existing cargo apron, an area off the runway where airplanes load and unload.
Brian Weiler, the airport’s director of aviation, told council the grant would help move freight more smoothly through the airport.
“It is designed to remove freight bottlenecks and expand freight-related economic development within the state of Missouri,” Weiler said.
The grant program is designed to support nonhighway transportation projects and can be used on railroads, river ports and airports, Weiler said.
“The airport intends to use these funds to expand our cargo ramp, which is seeing increased activity from carriers like UPS and FedEx,” he said. “Our year-to-date freight tonnage is currently running about 7% above pre-pandemic levels. As we all know, we’re ordering more things online for home delivery, and we’re seeing the results of that.”
Construction of the 21,500-square-foot expansion of the existing cargo apron is expected to be completed next summer, Weiler said.
Council approved an appropriation of $500,000 in airport funds to match the grant, for a total allocation of $1 million for the project.
Weiler’s written explanation to council said, “Historically, the airport has had plenty of space for the air cargo operators; however, recent developments have constrained the airport’s cargo operations to the point that improvements are necessary to maintain growth opportunities.”
He added that cargo operations have steadily increased for the last several years, and operators are using larger aircraft.
“Additionally, the airport is in the process of constructing a large maintenance and repair facility for American Airlines, which reduces the available space for cargo operations,” he wrote.
SBJ interviews the interim dean at the William H. Darr College of Agriculture at Missouri State University.