FORT HOOD, Texas - Late last month, an announcement of a $10 million federal grant to improve a primary taxiway at Robert Gray Army Airfield here was announced, and subsequently approved, at a Killeen City Council meeting.
The project will include the mill and overlay of Taxiway B, the addition of paved shoulders, updating of taxiway lighting, the reconstruction of Taxiway B3, and the replacement of all taxiway markings.
“So basically, the whole project is being done at no cost to Fort Hood, no cost to the city and no impact to the aviation fund because it’s fully funded by either federal grants or other federal programs,” Mike Wilson, the executive director of aviation operations for Killeen, said.
“During the past 20 plus years the strong joint use partnership between Fort Hood and the City of Killeen has proven to be mutually beneficial,” Tracy Crawford, U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood’s director of the Directorate of Aviation Operation, said. “To have a regional airport in close proximity (to the city of Killeen and Fort Hood) providing air carrier service to Dallas-Fort Worth, the American Airlines hub with follow-on world-wide connections, certainly benefits not only the city of Killeen, but also Fort Hood and the entire Central Texas community.”
The city of Killeen and Fort Hood have been neighbors for 80 years; since 2000, they have also shared the use of Robert Gray Army Airfield.
In the late 1990s, the original municipal airport had outgrown its terminal and runway, which at 5,500 feet, could not accommodate larger regional jets. As a result, the city of Killeen faced a loss of commercial airline service and declining economic opportunities.
In 2000, Fort Hood and Killeen signed a joint use agreement that authorized Fort Hood and Killeen to partner in relocating the Killeen Terminal from the municipal airport to RGAAF. This move allowed Killeen to share the use of the 10,000-foot RGAAF runway and for the city to lease a 75-acre parcel of land on the southeast portion of the airfield for 50 years. This partnership with Fort Hood opened many new economic possibilities.
Through the joint use partnership, Killeen constructed the Ted C. Connell Terminal, upgraded infrastructure on RGAAF and constructed a new taxiway. In return, Fort Hood permitted Killeen access to and use of Runway 15/33 on the airfield and is also committed to providing air traffic control and crash rescue services in support of the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport mission.
Wilson has been working in the aviation industry for 42 years. He said the partnership between Robert Gray Army Airfield and Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport is unique regarding joint-use agreements.
The expansion resulting from the joint-use partnership has allowed Killeen to maintain its commercial airline service and to continue its focus on economic growth.
“We (Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport) are a tenant on Robert Gray Army Airfield,” Wilson said. “Usually, a former military base that had been closed because of the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) and the land is given back to the state or county is used for joint-use agreements.”
But in this case, the opposite is true.
Fort Hood and Killeen have maintained a strong partnership during the 20-plus years of the joint-use agreement.
“If you have a partnership,” Wilson said, “everybody brings something to the table.”