01/27/06 — Authority planning extension of runway

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Authority planning extension of runway

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on January 27, 2006 1:54 PM

The Goldsboro-Wayne Airport Authority approved plans Thursday to extend the airport runway 1,000 feet and build more hangars.

Authority members have said they want to improve the airport so that it can handle larger planes and more traffic. The existing airport runway is 5,500 feet long.

Dain Riley, a consultant hired by the authority, called the plans "a road map to where we need to go and what we need to do in the future."

Riley said a longer runway would be needed to accommodate corporate jets. The increased traffic from a longer runway would also require new hangars, he said.

Authority member Ken Banks said the longer runway would give Goldsboro-Wayne an advantage over smaller municipal airports and would help generate economic growth in the county.

"In my personal opinion, the extension and strengthening of the runway is one of the main things that will add to the functions of the airport. It will allow us to accept larger aircraft that we cannot handle now," Banks said.

Harold Berk, a member of the airport authority, said many county residents do not understand the importance of the airport to the county's infrastructure. Like good roads, the county's economic stability requires good air transportation services.

"It is a valuable asset for our community. It makes it easy for corporations to come in and get service. Many don't understand how a vital part like this brings in jobs and helps our economy," Berk said.

Whether the airport plans come to fruition will depend to a large degree on how much money the state makes available, Riley said. Wayne is competing with 60 other public airports in the state for grant money.

The airport is funded by local, state and federal money. Wayne County provides nearly half of the airport's operating budget. The county also contributes a 10 percent match for any state or federal grants received.

The plans approved Thursday will be submitted to the state for inclusion in its statewide airport improvement program.

Banks said that although it is crucial to plan ahead, the authority also must do what it can to make improvements now. Over the past decade, the airport has added enough hangars to handle 35 planes, improved its terminal building and its navigational equipment, including an automatic weather observation station, he pointed out.

"As far as our image, we continue to try to improve that on a day-to-day basis," Banks said.