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News Airport Authority lays out next four projects

Runway widening postponed waiting for grant authorizations

The Airport Authority met recently to discuss plans concerning the future of the airport.

Present at the meeting were Richard Rhodes from Rhodes Construction, Reuben Moore, division operations engineer at North Carolina Department of Transportation, and Erik Rysdon from W.K. Dickson, an engineering, planning, and design firm out of Charlotte who has worked with the authority for many years.

The board members discussed potential projects that had been proposed through the year 2020, but decided to prioritize four specifically, beginning with the paving and lighting project that has been discussed at the last few meetings.

“In 2014, the taxiway paving and lighting rehabilitation project is already in the funding system and is expected to be funded when they send out the next grant authorizations,” said Rysdon.

In 2003, members of the Airport Authority, developed a 20- year plan as is recommended by the (FAA). After looking at the timeline of projects, board member Harold Corbin suggested that the board fast-track some of the items.

“I think we need to figure out what we need to prioritize to better benefit the airport,” he said.

The board was in agreement and member Gary Schmidt made a motion to prioritize Rysdon's recommended projects: The taxiway paving and lighting rehabilitation project; the Master Plan update which would include a CLOMAR study; the addition of a WAAS approach; and a single point refueling system.

A CLOMAR study consists of a mapping study of the area surrounding the airport conducted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The study of elevations and floodplains may be used in the future to improve the area where the airport is located.

“WAAS” stands for Wide Area Augmentation System which is an air navigation aid developed by the Federal Aviation Administration to use a plane's Global Positioning System (GPS) to land. According to Schmidt and Rhodes, the system gives pilots both horizontal and vertical guidance on to the runway which makes it easier to land.

The addition of a single point refueling system would allow for increased income at the airport. This approach is typically faster than gravity fueling and is usually easier.

Airport manager Neil Hoppe said that the airport misses out on fuel sales as a result of not having the single point system.

The board voted unanimously to prioritize the four projects.

The next agenda item of particular note was the postponement of the runway widening project that was set to begin in November.

“We've been talking with the contractor. Obviously, we're at the end of October right now and it's not a real good time to go out there and start digging,” Rysdon. "Richard [Rhodes] would be in agreement with that. We're looking at starting the project the first of spring, on or about March 15.”

According to Rysdon, the new plan, depending on the weather, would allow them to start around mid-March and hopefully conclude in May. As decided previously, the airport would be closed at night while continuing usual operations during the day. There would only be one week of complete closure.

At the assurance that the grant money that has been awarded would not be affected, the board voted unanimously to allow construction to be pushed back until early spring.

The airport authority will meet again on Nov. 26 at 4 p.m. at the Macon County Airport.


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