HOLLY SPRINGS — Work is set to begin on a project to relocate a portion of Holly Springs Road in an effort that will ultimately extend the runway of the Mount Airy - Surry County Airport.
According to John Springthorpe, chairman of the Airport Authority, contractors will start work on the project on March 3.
He said that while work will begin on that date, motorists traveling the road should not be affected for a couple of months.
“Initially, most of the activity will involve surveying and staging equipment,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t know when they’re going to start moving dirt, but we have already moved affected houses away from the construction area, and most of the activity at the beginning of the project will take place north of Holly Springs Road.”
Springthorpe conceded that as the one-year project moves forward, there will come a time that motorists traveling Holly Springs Road may experience longer travel times.
“At some point they’ll have to tie in the new road with the existing road and there may be some delays, but that will be months in the future,” he said.
According to Springthorpe, the relocation of the road is part of a larger plan that will extend the airport’s 4,300-foot runway by 1,200 feet, space that is necessary to accommodate larger planes.
“We had identified a need that the runway needs to be larger,” he said, noting that four corporate jets are based at the airport. “At times they can’t use the airport because the runway is too short, and it’s keeping out prospective businesses.”
On hot days, Springthorpe said aircraft aren’t as efficient and require more take-off and landing space.
Mount Airy company Smith-Rowe LLC, was awarded the contract for the project last year, bidding $4,888, 743.
The Surry County Board of Commissioners has appropriated $411,000 as a local match for the project against a $5 million investment from the state and federal governments, money which Springthorpe said will help fuel the county’s economy.
“Less than 10 percent of the costs are coming from local taxpayers, but the funds will be coming back into the county to help put people to work and create this new road segment,” he said.
After more than a decade in the planning stages, Springthorpe said the project will ultimately yield a better road for Holly Springs residents.
The project will construct about a mile of new roadway that will “horseshoe” around the extended runway.
“Before the aviation component can even begin we have to move the road,” he said. “But there is a benefit to the road’s users as well, because the road right now is narrow and has drainage problems. With this project we’re going to build a brand new road that’s constructed to current standards.
“Overall, we’ll end up with a better road and make way for a better airport,” he added.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.