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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow RUNWAY EXTENSION ON TAP FOR NEXT YEAR

RUNWAY EXTENSION ON TAP FOR NEXT YEAR

If all goes well, construction on an extended runway at Union County Airport may begin next year.

The county passed a milestone Wednesday with a public hearing on the runway extension. Ehrman Bates, who lives on Wright Road, was the only person to speak during the hearing, and he had a question about road construction.

Wright Road, which lies to the east of the airport must be changed to accommodate the longer runway on the southeast end of the airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration has the final say in runway location, and Wednesday's hearing was required by the federal agency.

"We'd like to go to design this winter," said Dennis Spray, the county's general services director.

The expansion is a "safety issue," Spray said. At 5,550 feet, the current main runway is too short to accommodate the C-130s and other tankers based at the airport and used by the Forest Service to drop retardant. The new runway will be 6,250 feet long.

The cost of the expansion project is expected to reach nearly $2 million, including costs for the environmental assessment and engineering. In addition, the county must purchase some property near the runway. Spray said negotiations for the property have not begun.

The FAA will bear 90 percent of the cost of expansion. Spray said that he expects fuel sales at the airport to make up the additional 10 percent.

The county has contracted with David Evans and Associates to complete the environmental studies required under the National Environmental Policy Act. Those studies are expected to be finished by winter.

As for the changes required to Wright Road, Spray said the county will leave existing Wright Road open while building the new road and will work to keep the dust level at a minimum.

— Alice Perry Linker

 
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