LITTLE ROCK, AR -- It's all smiles as Conway city leaders accept a check for nearly $5.8 million to help fund the city's new airport. The federal dollars will pay for perimeter fencing and runway pavement.
Work has already begun at the new site.
"The city of Conway has gone above and beyond, paying for this airport. (They) have put in a lot of money. (They) have a big stake in the success of this," said U.S. Senator Mark Pryor.
Leaders say they had no choice but build a new one. They call the current airport a safety hazard.
They blame the short runway for causing a pilot to crash into a house killing a woman inside back in 2007. The pilot died, too.
"This money will allow us to start paving this year, rather than next year, to accelerate that time schedule," said Conway Mayor Tab Townsell.
Townsell said consultants told leaders back in the seventies they needed a new airport. Nearly forty years later, it's finally coming to reality.
Pryor said getting the money says a lot about the city.
"I have a really good product to sell. Conway is a very good product and you guys have your act together here," Pryor said.
Leaders hope to open the new airport August 2014.