News came last Friday that Gonzales has been awarded $1.07 million by the Texas Transportation Commission for improvements to the Roger M. Dreyer Memorial Airport. The funds will be used for hangar construction and pavement improvements at the facility. Costs will be funded with the City of Gonzales chipping in $90,000 and the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Aviation Facilities Grant Program shelling out the rest. The program looks to preserve and improve the state's general aviation system.
“We currently only have about a half-dozen or so hangars and this project will add either 8, 9, or 10 hangars depending how the bids come out,” City Manager Allen Barnes said. “TxDOT Aviation receives their grant money from the federal government. The city’s matching funds come from the restricted use fund that is funded by airport fuel sales, not tax money. The new hangars will address about half of the waiting list we currently have for hangars.”
Barnes said that historically, TxDOT is not in the hangar building business, but several years ago they established the grant that Gonzales has now received. The city will pay 10 percent of the cost, which will be a benefit to the pilots who use the field. An array of people uses the airport, from business professionals to weekend aviation hobbyists. Trainees from Randolph Air Force Base use the runway on occasion for touch-and-go landings.
The airport is designed for light to medium aircraft. The runway measures 3,200 feet long and 50 feet wide. The new construction should greatly benefit the types of aircraft that can use the facilities and the storage space, which is at a premium.
The application process for the funds was not as detailed as some, Barnes said, for there are a limited number of qualified cities that can apply and the criteria is pretty specific for what will be covered. Once items are approved at the staff level it must then be approved by a TxDOT board.
“It is interesting because once the program is in place, TxDOT handles everything from hiring the engineer to letting the contract and contract administration,” he said. “TxDOT Aviation has always been a great partner for general aviation airports.”
He added that the city is fortunate in that its TxDOT project manager for the hangar construction actually lives here in town. And looking forward, the city is working with TxDOT for future improvements to the airport — large and small — ranging on items like additional lighting and a runway extension in the coming years.
TxDOT expects to provide approximately $60 million in funding this year for planning, constructing and maintaining community airports, with roughly 275 small fields across the state eligible for funding. Figures on arrivals and departures from these airports account for more than three million flight-hours per year and provide aircraft facilities for agriculture, medical, business and commuter use.