A grant of more than $1.79 million has been awarded to the Pine Bluff Regional Airport (Grider Field) to construct a taxiway.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation was announced Friday by U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Fourth District Congressman Bruce Westerman.

A grant of $1.25 million was also awarded to Drake Field in Fayetteville to improve the terminal building,

Pine Bluff Regional Airport Manager Doug Hale said the funds, which totaled $1.791,180 will be used to work on the taxiway which runs parallel to the south end of the field.

He said that when the airport was originally built to train pilots during World War II, there was no taxiway which was added later when Pine Bluff got commercial air service.

The taxiway was originally 3,500 feet, and another 1,500 feet was added in the 1970’s, Hale said.

Hale said FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations requires a 500-foot clearance from the center line of the runway to the center line of the taxiway as a safe zone and when the 1,500 feet addition was added, it created a deviation from that safety zone.

The new construction will eliminate that deviation,” Hale said.

He said work is expected to take about a year and will be done by Pioneer Construction of Crossett, which submitted the lowest bid for the project.

“Local airports are valuable assets to our communities and infrastructure is key to expanding economic opportunities in these areas,” Boozman said in a press release. “These investments will improve safety and efficiency at Drake Field and Pine Bluff Regional Airport by allowing the two airports to implement upgrades that are important to long term growth and development in Arkansas.”

Westerman said in the press release that “Maintaining and improving our airports is critical for the safety and convenience of travelers across our country. This investment in Pine Bluff will provide more opportunity for air travel in Arkansas’ Fourth District and further the economic growth we have seen under this administration.”