KINGMAN - Resurfacing the 6,830-foot taxiway D at Kingman Airport helps pave the way for future industrial development and additional passenger service, the airport's economic development director said this week.
McCormick Construction of Bullhead City started work on the $1.1 million project Monday, one of the major upgrades planned for the 4,000-acre airfield established during World War II for enlisted training and B-17 storage.
The project is 90 percent funded by the Arizona Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division and 10 percent by the Kingman Airport Authority. Work is expected to be completed by Aug. 12.
Other airport projects waiting for funding include reconstruction of taxiway C and pavement preservation of the secondary runway.
Resurfacing entails millwork, filling cracks and laying down a rubberized asphalt that's different from asphalt used on streets and roads, said Bob Riley, economic development director at the airport.
"We are dealing with products people think they recognize, but we are a little different and we're trying to keep the runway open while we do the work," he said.
While resurfacing the taxiway is a million-dollar project, reconstruction runs in the multi-millions of dollars because it reaches below the asphalt to the subgrade, Riley explained.
Kingman Airport exists financially because of emergency services, such as responding to wildfires and natural disasters and for military purposes, the economic director said. Passenger and freight service are secondary.
Still, the Kingman Airport Authority is doing its best to improve passenger and freight business because emergency services are needed only periodically.
"Our job is to balance the surface out here and make it attractive and basically offer this as a resource for people considering our community," Riley said.
Kingman Airport's 1,100-acre industrial park is home to about 70 businesses employing more than 2,000 people, he noted.
The largest company is American Woodmark, manufacturer of kitchen cabinets, with 400 employees. Other airport businesses include Cascade Tissue Group, Scot Industries, True Value distribution center, Goodyear Tire, Sun State Components and Honeywell Aircraft Landing Systems.
Renegade, a company that makes boots for horse hooves, is the most recent business to lease a building at the airport industrial park, Riley said.
Two of the larger buildings at the complex - Guardian Fiberglass and Southwire - are "mothballed" and waiting for the construction industry to fully rebound.
"While we think Kingman is our primary market, it's not," Riley said. "All of the companies are going to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas. We have 33 million people within 350 miles of us."
The industrial park is served by the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad, with five miles of rail spurs managed by Kingman Terminal Railroad.
About 175 general aviation airplanes are based at Kingman Airport and more than 200 commercial aircraft are in storage there, including planes for DHL, Continental Express and American Eagle.
Scheduled commuter service is limited to Los Angeles and Denver on Great Lakes Airlines.
The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an order in April to terminate the Essential Air Service subsidy for passenger service at Kingman, one of 13 community airports to receive such funding, because it wasn't meeting minimum daily passenger requirements.
The order established a waiver request and Riley said the airport is in the process of preparing that request by the July 24 deadline.
Kingman Airport Authority is a not-for-profit corporation with most of its operations and capital improvement budgets coming from the sale and lease of industrial property, Riley said. Land is going for roughly $1.50 a square foot without rail service and $2 a square foot with rail service.