Preliminary work is already underway at the Nueces County to build five new hangars that county officials hope will help ease a backlog of private pilots interested in leasing space at the airport.

Nueces County and the federal government are funding the project, which Precinct 3 Commissioner Oscar Ortiz said has been in the works for the past four years. Federal monies will be coming from a Non-Primary Entitlement Grant, a program that allows for federal dollars to be funneled through a state's Department of Transportation for general airports.

The Nueces County Airport, which was built in1942, is primarily used by farmers and crop dusters to store their aircraft, as well as utilizing the 3,700-foot runway for take-off and landing. It was previously leased out to fixed base operators before the county took over operation of the airport in 1992.

The county has already done more than $1 million in improvements to the airport, including widening and lengthening the runway, over the last decade. Increasing its capacity will be the next step.

"We're doing it in small increments," Ortiz said.

The hangar work may allow for the airport to attract more private business to the area, Ortiz said, while also helping to lower operational costs for an airport that has been operating in the red for the past few years.

"It's not a (revenue generator) and it will never be a (revenue generator) in the sense of the operational costs, but it will stimulate the economy in Nueces County," Ortiz said.

The county is responsible for approximately 52 percent of the total $385,000 cost of the project, or about $200,000. The federal government, through TxDOT, will add in the additional $185,000.

The work will be done in two phases, the first of which will be preparation of the site and foundation. The second phase will include the actual construction of the five hangars, Ortiz said.