02/27/05 — Extension of Mount Olive Airport could require part of road to be closed

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Extension of Mount Olive Airport could require part of road to be closed

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 27, 2005 2:05 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive cannot extend its airport runway any farther until it decides how to deal with a road that stands in the way.

Airport Manager Mike Bass told the Mount Olive Town Board during a recent work session that airport officials want to extend the runway beyond its current 4,205 feet to 5,000 feet. That would enable larger corporate jets to take off from the airport fully loaded and still be covered by insurance.

The plan is on hold, Bass said, until airport officials can meet with the landowners involved.

Closing Kelly Springs Road, which blocks the extension, would be the easiest way to solve the problem, said Town Manager Ray McDonald. But closing the road would cut through the middle of a neighboring farm and cause the landowner to have to go out of his way to reach the other side of his field. McDonald had told the airport committee earlier that another nearby landowner would be affected, too, but not as badly.

Rebuilding the road so that it would curve around the end of the exended runway would be cost-prohibitive, McDonald told the town board during the work session. Neither the state Department of Transportation nor the county would pay for such a project, he said. They might help some, he said, but the cost would be at least several hundred thousand dollars.

"The few hundred feet we've added now has changed the traffic drastically," he said. "You've got jets coming in there all the time. It's come from 3,700 feet to 4,200 feet. That little bit makes it look like RDU now."

McDonald told the town board that expanding the airport runway could help increase the town's tax base. He said that if a corporate jet were to be based at the airport, the owner would haved to pay town taxes on it. He also reminded the board that Bass is licensed to work on all types of airplanes, including jets.

"I think we're lucky to have Mike," McDonald said. "He's considered one of the best mechanics in the business."

In other business, town officials learned the lighting system and beacon are in the process of being replaced. The beacon has arrived, and the lights are on their way, McDonald said.

He said the new beacon is visible from Goldsboro. McDonald said some pilots have told him they can see it from as far away as I-95.