03/11/05 — Alternatives to closing road being investigated

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Alternatives to closing road being investigated

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 11, 2005 1:54 PM

Some Mount Olive residents are opposing a proposal to expand the town's airport runway by closing an adjoining road, but local officials say they are still willing to look at all options.

"We're planning a workshop with landowners around the airport," said Bob Quinn, the chairman of the Mount Olive Airport Committee. "We'll revisit everything."

Several residents appeared at the Wayne County commissioners' meeting earlier this month, opposing the request by Mount Olive officials to close a portion of Kelly Springs Road, from Everett Road to just south of David Road.

Kelly Springs Road towards the airport

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

The runway at Mount Olive Airport almost reaches Kelly Springs Road now.

Only the state has the authority to close a road. But county commissioners can make recommendations to the Department of Transportation regarding road closures.

Philip Shiver, the assistant fire chief of the Indian Springs Volunteer Fire Department, told commissioners that he was concerned about the idea of closing the road because it is used as a short-cut. Closing it would force longer routes for fire trucks and ambulances, he said.

County Manager Lee Smith recommended that the commissioners send the request to the county Planning Board, for its members to look at the various issues associated with closing the road.

At a Planning Board meeting earlier this week, county Planning Director Connie Price gave board members a packet of letters from residents opposing the road closing.

"Take the letters and look at them, and the staff will provide you with some additional information later," Price said. "We're going to do traffic counts, and find out who is using the road. We'll get as much detail as we can."

Joseph Wilson, a resident living at the intersection of Everett Road and Kelly Springs Road, said that closing the road would affect him and others that use the road.

"A lot of people use that road," Wilson said. "We feel like there are other ways to reach their goal of expanding the airport."

Wilson said that one of the earlier proposals had been to reroute Kelly Springs Road, but he had heard that the DOT wouldn't fund a road diversion. So, he said, the next proposal was to close Kelly Springs Road.

"I'm not satisfied they couldn't go to the south end of the runway to expand," Wilson said. "They should have enough room."

Jay Talbert, consulting engineer for the airport, said that extending the runway to the south would pose other problems.

Talbert said that there were some houses on North East Church Road that would fall within the "runway protection zone" if the runway was extended to the south.

He said that the Federal Aviation Administration recommends airports own land within the runway protection zone, if possible, because of noise factors.

No one lives along the stretch of Kelly Springs Road under consideration for closure.

"The impacts become a balancing point," Talbert it's still possible we could reroute Kelly Springs Road."

He said that even though the DOT didn't want to fund the re-routing of the road, money could be found through other funding sources.

"If we extended it to the south, it could necessitate relocation for two families," he said.

Diverting the road, he said, would cost about $250,000 and would be a less expensive option.

"We have no schedule right now for lengthening the runway in either direction," Talbert said. "We are still in discussions and want to be fair, so we impact the least amount of people."

He said that even though Mount Olive was not a large city, the airport was a "vital tool for business in the area."

"The North Carolina Division of Aviation recommends that the runway be 5,000 feet for corporate aircraft," Talbert said. "Right now the Mount Olive runway is 4,450 feet."