02/23/06 — Airport continues plans for runway extension

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Airport continues plans for runway extension

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 23, 2006 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Town officials should know in a few weeks how many acres of land they will need to buy for an extension on the Mount Olive Airport runway.

The town's Airport Committee met Wednesday morning to hear a report from engineer Marty Wynn of Talbert & Bright, a Wilmington firm hired to design an extension that would make the runway at least 5,000 feet long. Airport officials said the extension will allow the airport to accommodate larger planes.

Wynn said he expects to have a report ready in two more weeks that will explain how the extension should be built and how much land the town will need to buy to make the project work.

He said his study of a surveyor's report so far has shown the town can fit 5,255 feet of runway between Kelly Springs Road to the north and Northeast Church Road to the south.

The existing runway is 4,300 feet long. The committee has determined to extend the runway 955 more feet to the south. When it is finished, the runway will be advertised in trade magazines as 5,000 feet long. The extra 255 feet will be there for pilots to land farther in and not come too close to the roads.

Town Manager Ray McDonald said the Mount Olive Committee of 100 has given the town some road frontage so that the Town Board can trade land with landowners who own the land at the end of the runway. McDonald said he will be able to better discuss the possibilities of obtaining the land after Wynn's report is finished.

"It's hard to talk to someone when you don't know what you want," McDonald said.

He said the town likely would offer to buy the land needed for the runway extension and then give the landowners a lifetime lease to grow crops.

"We want to work with these landowners so they don't lose anything," he said.

McDonald said the people he has talked to so far have no problem with the runway extension as long as nothing happens to Northeast Church Road. McDonald said two or three landowners likely would be involved in negotiations for the necessary land.