The discussion about expanding the Carroll County Airport runway has been ongoing for more than five years, and it looks like it will continue just a little longer.
The current plan being considered includes building a new runway that will total 6,400 feet in length. The current runway is about 5,100 feet.
At a May 17 public hearing on the airport expansion, a representative of Surdex Corporation announced a proposal to build a 30,000 sq. ft. facility at the airport should the expansion move forward. The facility would be used to consolidate the business' four locations.
Surdex Corporation provides geospatial data services—essentially taking high resolution aerial images, often for mapping purposes.
At Tuesday's county commissioner work session, the commissioners were briefed in more detail about the proposal. According to Jeff Topper, deputy director of Public Works, Surdex would build the facility, costing an estimated $6 million, on the 13 acre plot of land next to the current runway. The company would have a fleet of seven aircraft, three of which are currently based at the Carroll County airport.
The new business opportunity presents an element that was not previously on the table when commissioners were considering the airport expansion. According to Topper, there are economic perks to Surdex expanding its operations here. In addition to the 15 employees Surdex currently has working at the airport, another 45 will relocate here. Surdex will also pay ground rent to the county.
But the commissioners presented a host of questions, some without readily available answers.
Commissioner Robin Bartlett-Frazier, R-District 1, wanted to know how the funding will break down, both in terms of how much the project will cost per year as well as how much each individual part of the project will cost (land acquisition, construction).
David Jones from Delta Airport Consultants said that at this point the project has been looked at as a whole and the numbers Frazier is looking for simply aren't available.
Topper did show cost figures to complete the entire project which would include land acquisition, relocating Meadow Branch Road and building the actual runway, among other things.
Topper explained that approximately $20.2 million would be spent between 2012 and 2017, and another $53.9 million between 2017 and 2027.
According to Tom Rio, director of Public Works, Carroll County will ultimately pay for 2.5 percent of those costs. Ninety-five percent will be funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the other 2.5 percent will be paid for by the state.
The county currently owns 475 acres at the airport, and according to Topper, another 100 are needed to complete the proposed runway extension project.
One of the next steps in the runway extension project is acquiring land, some of which is occupied by residents and businesses. Moving forward will require the county to put out money that it will not be able to recoup should it decide at a later point to halt the project.
Rio pointed out that the current runway will need renovations in another four or five years. He said that if the extension project goes forward, the new runway would replace the current runway. Rio said there has been no cost analysis to determine how much it would cost to renovate the current runway in five years.
For more information about the Carroll County Airport runway extension project, click here.