03/24/05 — Another engineering study for Mount Olive airport would be waste of money, town officials say

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Another engineering study for Mount Olive airport would be waste of money, town officials say

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 24, 2005 1:45 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive Airport officials say another engineering study to determine how to expand the town's airport runway could be a waste of money.

Plans to extend the airport runway to the north have run into opposition from people living along a road that would have to be closed or rerouted.

Mount Olive's airport engineering consultant, Talbert and Bright, told airport committee members on Wednesday that it would cost $9,800 to study the issue again. It would cost $2,000 to study the possibility of a southern extension, a spokesman for the firm said.

Why study the issue again if you know it's not going to work, asked airport committee member Tony Winstead.

Talbert and Bright's initial plan to extend the runway to 5,000 feet involves closing or rerouting Kelly Springs Road, which borders the northern end of the airport.

The committee voted unanimously Wednesday to have some of its members meet with property owners at both ends of the runway and with Talbert and Bright officials to decide whether the cost of a new study is warranted. Whatever the airport committee decides will be passed on as a recommendation to the town board, which would make the decision.

Jay Talbert said one option is to create "declared distances," in which the runway would be longer than 5,000 but in which each end is restricted regarding take-offs and landings. The airport currently has 250 feet at the northern end that is "displace." That means planes can taxi on that section in preparation for takeoff but that the section cannot be used during landing.

Building "displaced" sections at both ends could free up 5,000 feet of runway that could be used in both directions, Talbert said.

Bob Quinn, the chairman of the airport committee, said the committee wants to try one more time to determine if the town can fit the 5,000 foot runway between Kelly Springs Road to the north and Northeast Church Road to the south.

"We can't be everything to everybody all the time," Quinn said, adding that the committee welcomes any ideas that could lead to a solution. He invited the property owners involved to attend the airport committee meetings, which are held at 9 a.m. every fourth Wednesday.

Phil Shivar opposes the closing of Kelly Springs Road. He said Wednesday that if the road is closed, that fire trucks and other emergency responders would lose valuable time reaching the homes in the area.

Airport committee member Doug Wiggins, who recently bought a manufacturing plant near the airport, said the runway extension is needed to allow for more business traffic. He said the proximity of the airport to his plant was a major factor in his decision to buy. Other businesses could be attracted to Mount Olive if the runway is made longer to accommodate corporate jets, he said.

"We need a runway that meets the minimum (requirements for approach clearance)," he said. "We need the approaches so we don't have to wait for a pretty day to do business."

Wayne County Commissioner Chairman J.D. Evans, who attended Wednesday's meeting, praised the airport committee for studying all its options and said the county would help support the extension, if they are assured that it would lead to increased economic development.

Most of the money that would be used to extend the runway would come from the federal government.