In a last-minute change of heart, the Federal Aviation Authority said Thursday it will likely fund a taxiway renovation at Lawrence Municipal Airport this year.
The airport has planned a three-pronged construction project, including expansion of the apron and renovations of its taxiway and runway.
But the city cut the taxiway from the project Monday because FAA officials said they could not fund all three endeavors. So airport manager Debbie Van Saun was surprised to get a call Thursday from the FAA.
"Now that they've found the money, it seems, we'll be able to do all the projects we'd planned to start this year," she said. "We've laid the groundwork for three projects all along, so this will just fit right in."
Lawrence could have made a bid for all the money in one grant, but that would have slowed the process. The FAA proposed applying for two grants one to fund the apron and runway for $1.9 million and another to fund the taxiway for $800,000.
The city must supply 10 percent of the project's costs, or $275,000.
Pending congressional approval, the second grant will be delivered in 30 to 45 days. Hamm's Asphalt Inc. is tentatively set to break ground Aug. 1 on the first two projects, and city officials hope the company will take on the third if funds are approved.
The 17-year-old taxiway needs to be rebuilt and overlaid to handle more weight and fill in cracks, Van Saun said. The airport will not close down during the construction.
Crews will race to finish by mid-September, before the first NASCAR event at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.
"Hamm's has not indicated any delay on that mid-September deadline," said Rick Bryant, Aviation Advisory Board chairman. "The overlay may have to wait until after the race, but the patchwork will be done."