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Airport plans take flight

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At last Wednesday’s Bossier Parish Police Jury meeting, developers unveiled their plans for an airport in the northern part of Bossier Parish. The planned airport development is to be located about six miles north of Benton on Alden Bridge Loop Road near the intersection of Louisiana Highways 3 and 160. This location places the airport out of the airspace zones for Barksdale Air Force Base, the Downtown Shreveport Airport and the Shreveport Regional Airport. Developers see the location of the airport as a distinct advantage in relation to the airspace restrictions related to the nearby airports and BAFB.

During their presentation, developers Max Sharp and Joe Provenza told police jury members that their plans call for the airport to be a private investor funded community airport. However, there will also be public access. Furthermore, they said their plans call for airplane hangars that can be built with office space/apartments, a club house (with swimming pool) and home sites that can be located near or adjacent to the airplane hangars. The airport’s runway is set to be 5,000 feet in length.There will also be a lake that will include a boat ramp. The lake will be also be 5,000 feet in length in order to accommodate the landing of sea planes. There will also be office space and a fueling station with both gas and jet fuel.

The Federal Aviation Administration has airspace classifications ranging from A to G. Development plans call for the Bossier Parish airport to be Class E airspace. According to Wikipedia, Class E airspace is defined as: “controlled airspace which is neither class A, B, C nor D.[8] In most areas of the United States, class E airspace extends from 1,200 feet (370 m) above ground level (AGL) up to but not including 18,000 feet (5,500 m) MSL, the lower limit of class A airspace.”

In further definition by Wikipedia: “there are areas where class E airspace begins at either the surface or 700 AGL, these areas are used to transition between the terminal and en-route environments (around non-towered airports). These areas are designated on sectional charts. Most airspace in the United States is class E. The airspace above FL600 is also class E.[8] No ATC clearance or radio communication is required for VFR flight in class E airspace. VFR visibility and cloud clearance requirements are the same as for class C and D airspaces when below 10,000 feet (3,000 m) MSL. Above 10,000 ft MSL, the visibility requirement is extended to 5 miles (8 km) and the cloud clearance requirement is extended to 1,000 feet (300 m) below clouds, 1,000 feet (300 m) above, and 1 mile (1.6 km) laterally.”

The Bossier Parish airport will be rated for GPS approach allowing for nighttime and weather related landings. Developers see the location of the airport as a distinct advantage in relation to airspace. There will be Federal Aviation Administration specifications to comply with in relation to glide slopes, taxi ways, etc.

Developers also noted several obstacles/issues related to moving forward with their plans such as: the Highway 160 water system and issues with the Kansas City Southern Railroad System for railroad crossings. Bossier Parish Police Juror Rick Avery also pointed out the existence of a railroad side track presently located near one of the planned entrances for the development that will have to be dealt with. Additional acreage may also be purchased in order to expand the size of the airport development which is reportedly planned at this point to be the approximate size of the Downtown Shreveport Airport.

The Bossier Press Tribune talked to developer Max Sharp after last Wednesday’s Bossier Parish Police Jury meeting. In his comments to BPT, Sharp said the following after the meeting: “there is no doubt that this airport will have a huge economic impact. The plans for this airport came about due to problems with the City of Shreveport over existing airplane hangar leases. Thus, the situation automatically led problem solving people to look at the situation and put forward the fact that Bossier Parish does not have an airport. If the City of Shreveport has an overflow demand for airplane hangar space (as they say they do) and we have airplane owners needing hangars with no place to go, then the natural thing to do is to build another airport.”

Sharp continued, “community airports are phenomenal, if they are done right. There are thousands of these community airports nationwide. Bunches of them in Florida. Every state has one or two of these types of airports. Lakeway Airpark in Austin, TX is a really nice community airport. Basically, people live on the airfield, it is a private airport and public traffic can still come to it. Operating the airport privately is a more efficient way to do things than governmental or city/municipal control.

Sharp concluded, “we are really excited about developing this airport. We have an investment group that we are putting together. We are going to raise the money to build it. It will be built in phases. Obviously, buying the property, getting some engineering done and starting to dance with the FAA to get their blessing on this project are the first steps necessary in order to get this development underway. Then, we are going to start moving some dirt. This will be good for Bossier Parish.”

There is a feasibility study, flat area dirt work and other infrastructure work that will proceed as this plan moves forward. The airport plan has been referred to committee for further analysis and for the numbers to be crunched by parish engineers as they relate to what will be required of the Bossier Parish Police Jury. The airport plan will be discussed in further detail at future police jury meetings in the weeks/months ahead.

The airport development plans unveiled last week have raised several issues of concern from neighboring property owners.

Randy Brown
rbrown@bossierpress.com