About $10 million will be spent on airfield improvements at Meacham and Arlington airports in Tarrant County after the Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday approved the funds. At Arlington Municipal Airport, $6.41 million was awarded for taxiway improvements. At Fort Worth’s Meacham Airport, $3.13 was awarded for apron construction.
Most of the money comes from the federal highway trust fund, and is filtered to various airports through a state block grant program, Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Penny Mason said. Statewide, about $60 million is available for 275 “community” airports, which are often used for agricultural, medical, business and commuter purposes.
Also on Thursday, the transportation commission agreed to seek private developers for the proposed $700 million makeover of Interstate 30 and 35E bridges in Dallas – a project that has come to be known as the “Horseshoe” because of the shape of the I-30/35E corridor near downtown.
The commission meeting in Austin was the first overseen by new executive director Phil Wilson, who was hired last month and is the first non-engineer in the modern history of the department to hold the top job. Wilson most recently worked as an executive for Luminant energy company and is a former Texas secretary of state.
The newest member of the five-person transportation commission also made his debut. Jeff Austin, a Tyler banker, was appointed last week by Gov. Rick Perry. He replaces Deirdre Delisi of Austin, who resigned as transportation chairwoman to play a greater role as an advisor to Perry’s presidential campaign. Austin arrives as the agency attempts to shed its image as an out-of-control entity that pursues toll roads and other projects in areas where they are unpopular.
For example, the agency on Thursday finalized its “My 35” initiative, which included three years of grass roots meetings with residents and businesses along the Interstate 35 corridor statewide. Although the main purpose of My 35 was to plan future road and railroad improvements, it also served to soothe old concerns from some residents along the corridor who opposed the Trans Texas Corridor, which was Perry’s once-lofty idea of buying up large swaths of land to build toll roads and rail lines statewide. “There’s a lot of new initiatives here that will serve us well,” Austin said in his opening remarks at the meeting, which was broadcast live online at www.txdot.gov.
Photo: The pic at the top of the page is from the Nuts About Southwest blog. It's an image of Meacham Field in its heyday, probably around 1951, before Amon Carter Field and later DFW Airport were built.