Major improvements are underway for Liberty Municipal Airport, including repaving the 3,801-foot runway and taxiways, and construction of 20 new T-hangars. These projects, both of which are still in the engineering stage, fall on the heels of the completion of another major airport improvement – the installation of an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS).
The AWOS system provides real time weather data that is used to determine if conditions are safe for air travel. Not only is the system helpful to commercial and non-commercial pilots flying in and out of the airport, the information is used to determine if weather conditions are safe for air ambulances.
The total cost of the AWOS system was $200,000. Initially, the project would have required the City of Liberty to pay for $50,000 in matching funds for the grant through the Texas Department of Transportation, which funded 75 percent of the project. However, this week, Memorial Hermann Life Flight came through with a $50,000 donation to the City to cover these costs.
“We got the check in the mail yesterday. They told us from the beginning that they planned to do it and there were no strings attached,” said Assistant City Manager Chris Jarmon. “They wanted to see the AWOS go into the airport. It is fully operational and was commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration over the summer. It’s a project the City has been looking to do for a very long time.”
Prior to the installation, the closest weather data for Liberty’s airport came from Cleveland Municipal Airport or Beaumont’s municipal airport, both of which have AWOS systems in place.
“Now that we have one at the Liberty airport, they can pull that data and have it be more relevant to this area. It’s a benefit to everyone involved,” Jarmon said.
The hangar expansion project is one that will eventually pay for itself through hangar rentals. Cost estimates are not yet available as engineers are still working on the plans, Jarmon said.
“We are adding 20 more T-hangars behind our existing hangars. We look to put that project out to bid in January. We are building them from the ground up – foundation and hangars. Engineering for the project was paid for by the LCDC (Liberty Community Development Corporation). Once that is done, we plan some mix of the City and the LCDC funding the construction,” he said.
With a continuous waiting list for hangars, Jarmon believes all of them will be leased as soon as they become available. The cost per hangar is $250 per month.
“We always have a waiting list for hangars. It’s been as high as 18 on the list. We won’t have any problem leasing out the spaces. We just have to work toward filling the demand,” he said. “We will also recoup some costs through the additional fuel sales.”
An apron will be added to connect the new hangars to the existing taxiways and runway, both of which will see major improvements in the new year.
“We are doing the engineering right now on completely rehabilitating our runway and taxiways. We expect the engineering for that project to be done in six months and put the project out to bid in the summer of next year. The runway rehab will be a 90-10 split project. The total project is $2.88 million with the Texas Department of Transportation covering 90 percent of the costs. The LCDC has agreed to cover the 10 percent match from the city – roughly $288,000,” Jarmon said.
The runway and taxiways project will involve the complete rehabilitation of the pavement, which in all likelihood will require the airport to close during construction, he added.
Jarmon also provided an update on the $2.8 million in renovations underway to the city-owned Liberty Municipal Golf Course, previously known as Magnolia Ridge.
“Right now contractors are working on irrigation and cart paths. The Council recently approved an additional water well to help us irrigate the course properly. That and weather has pushed back the reopening date slightly. We were hoping to reopen in mid-November, but it might take a few more weeks,” he said.
To help residents keep up with the latest news regarding the golf course, the City has set up a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LibertyMunicipalGolfCourse/. To subscribe to the City’s newsletter regarding the golf course, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liberty Municipal Airport is located east of the city at 2265 FM 160 North. For more information on the airport, call 936-587-4150 or 936-336-3684.