FRANKFORT, KY (STL.News) Today, Gov. Andy Beshear joined airport representatives and local and state officials virtually to celebrate the ground-breaking in Paducah marking the start of construction of the new terminal complex at Barkley Regional Airport.
“Today’s event is the perfect bookend to my last visit announcing a $5 million state commitment to help this project get off the ground,” said Gov. Beshear. “The kickoff to construction is a major milestone that is the product of lots of community support and buy-in at all levels of government. We all look forward to the role the improved airport will play in spurring economic development and connecting the world to Western Kentucky.”
The new complex will house a commercial terminal and provide space for industrial and commercial development in areas adjacent to the site both on and off the airfield.
“We call this project the airport for our future, but it is just the first step in making Barkley Regional Airport even more of an economic development engine for Paducah and all of far Western Kentucky,” said Dennis Rouleau, the airport’s executive director. “Not only do we believe this will spur growth and development both on and around the airport, but by providing a new, modern and attractive front door to the region, we believe we will help spur and facilitate growth throughout the entire region.”
Rouleau said, in addition to $5 million from the state, the airport has received more than $19 million in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, and airport officials are optimistic more grant funds will be made available in 2021.
“The terminal project is more than a facelift for the 75-year-old airport; it’s a strategic investment to build quality infrastructure that has potential to unlock economic development in Western Kentucky,” said Transportation Secretary Jim Gray.
Rouleau praised the local and regional support for this project that was instrumental in obtaining the funding. He added that elected officials and economic development agencies from surrounding counties, in addition to those in Paducah and McCracken County, have done everything asked of them in support of the project because they realize its importance to the future of our region.
“This is the perfect example of what we can accomplish when state and federal leaders work together and we have to recognize that having the Senate Majority Floor Leader involved in this project made it possible,” Kentucky House Appropriations and Revenue Chair Steven Rudy said. “A project like this has the potential to transform our region.”
“We’re one step closer to a project that will benefit this community for generations to come,” Rep. Randy Bridges, Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee, added. “Every dollar we invest in infrastructure projects like this one at our airport will pay off exponentially in helping our existing businesses grow and attracting new jobs. It’s just a great gain for our quality of life.”
“The new airport terminal will serve not only as an impressive ‘first appearance’ showcasing our community to travelers but will be a strong component of economic development for the entire region for decades to come,” said McCracken County Judge/Executive Craig Clymer.
“Barkley Regional Airport is a cornerstone for this region,” said Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless. “Investing in the airport creates opportunities for additional economic development and sets the stage for generating positive first impressions that elicit excitement and curiosity for Paducah and McCracken County and the surrounding region.”
This first phase of what is estimated to be a $42 million project includes dirt work, bringing utilities to the site and relocating an automated weather station. It also includes the construction of both a new access road for the terminal and a new aircraft apron.
The terminal building itself is being designed. Once design is completed in January, the airport hopes to begin construction in early 2021. The terminal is tentatively scheduled to open to the public in early 2023.