The state has thrown a little money behind a project to extend the runway of the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport, a project officials claim will ultimately lead to economic development opportunities in the county.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation has awarded $260,000 in state monies to be used for utility relocation associated with the project.
According to Airport Authority Chair John Springthorpe, the money will help defray the costs associated with the relocation of underground utilities.
“It was something we’d applied for as part of the ongoing runway extension project, and will allow us to begin the utility relocation, including the water line on Holly Springs Road that can now be moved when the road is moved,” he said. “It will save us money because we can do it all at the same time instead of having to come back after the road is built and move the line.”
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.
The project will construct about a mile of new roadway on Holly Springs Road that will “horseshoe” around the extended runway.
Springthorpe said these days, many companies have corporate aviation divisions, and the length of the runway precludes some jets from landing at the local airport.
“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.”
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. The recent grant award was not included in the original budget for the project and will hopefully lower the price of the project.
“It will help us reduce the overall costs by several hundred thousand dollars because we will be able to move the utilities while we construct the roadway,” he said.
“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.
At present, Springthorpe said the contractor is still in the process of surveying the location and getting the needed equipment into place. Smith-Rowe began work on the project on March 3.
“Initially, most of the activity will involve surveying and staging equipment,” he said. “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 initial activity will take place north of Holly Springs Road.”
Springthorpe said he is glad the state sees the benefit associated with funding a portion of the project.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.