Martin County Airport Commissioners were recently presented a 20-year airport plan that W.K. Dickson has been developing, outlining potential airport expansion.
Dickson Project Engineer Jason Elliott presented the plan at last month’s commissioner’s meeting. Dickson handles the majority of the airport’s construction projects.
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“I brought one copy of the report that has all the information about the airport’s forecast for growth and a 20-year plan for development,” said Elliott.
While the plan outlines expansion and numerous improvements, the current focus was on the current taxi lane, lighting and reseeding of bare spots that kept the commissioner’s attention, along with the funding opportunities through grant options to finance the plan.
“The parallel taxiway construction is mostly completed on the current project. There’s some punch list items that are still being addressed,” Elliott said. “There’s a good bit of bare area that still needs grass seed to be established.
“And there’s some electrical items that are outstanding. The threshold lights on the end that need to be replaced,” he added. “I think those lights came in. The original lights that they had malfunction and didn’t work for some reason, so that they needed to be replaced. But most of the construction’s done.”
One phase of the plan focuses on runway maintenance and resealing. Originally, only a portion of the runway was to be resealed but the entire runway is now scheduled for maintenance.
The runaway is scheduled for completion over the next few weeks and will take seven days to complete and will need to be closed during that period, explained Elliott.
The commissioners are also planning on constructing a new taxi lane.
“We’ve made our 90 percent submittal to DOA. We’ve got some comments back from them that we’re incorporating and going through and should have that wrapped up and 100 percent plans here pretty soon. I’m waiting on direction from DOA,”said Elliott.
Pilots in the region will be glad to know the commissioners are planning a new hangar to accommodate up to 10 aircraft. The proposal calls for a 231’ by 51’ structure holding 10 planes.
Elliott is working on those plans currently. The major challenge is the significant cost escalation over the past decade possibly affecting the project’s outcome.
The board is positioning the expenditure to be a revenue-generating proposition for the county.
With the county’s current tax rate and the fact a plane can often be more expensive than a home, a new hangar could generate a substantial amount of tax revenue without the cost of infrastructure development such as streets, sewers, sidewalks and trash pickup.
Aside from the tax revenue generated, the income from fuel, along with added traffic to stores in Williamston are all beneficial financial advantages a new hangar would generate.
Deer on the runway, impeding take-off and landing are also raising safety concerns prompting the commissioners to explore fencing to keep the deer away.
Elliott advised deer spotting should be documented by date and time. This could work to the county’s advantage when seeking funding for the project.
The project calls for 16,000 feet of 10-foot high link fence with a buried spirit on the ground to keep panel animals from digging under the fence, according to the plan. The cost of the project could top one million dollars. The commissioners are exploring funding options for the project.