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The Lebanon-Springfield Airport could be safer and more convenient after the completion of a new taxiway.
The airport board learned recently that federal funding from the Airport Improvement Program was approved for the project.
The project will also change the access road coming into the airport.
Board chairman Craig Arnold said the project is something that’s been discussed ever since he joined the board three years ago.
Nearly two years ago, in October 2010, the airport board purchased nearly five acres of land from Loraine McMurtry as part of preparations for the project. The board paid $89,733 for the property.
Paul Steely, with PDC Consultants, an airport engineering and planning firm based in Nashville, said the board was forward-thinking by purchasing the land.
During the airport board meeting on March 8, Steely said that 90 percent of the project funding comes from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, five percent comes from the Kentucky Department of Aviation and the other five percent comes from local funds.
Arnold said the board would have no trouble covering its five percent of the project.
“What’s really nice about it is you’re getting a dollars worth of project for a nickel,” Steely said. “We’ll take that all day long.”
The addition of a taxiway will help keep aircraft off the runway to allow other planes to land.
Under the current configuration, an aircraft has to taxi on the runway, blocking any other planes from landing.
The new taxiway will be roughly 2,200 foot long. It will be separated from the runway by 300 foot, Steely said.
The access road must be moved to accommodate for the new taxiway, Steely said.
Because the road only services the airport, federal funding will cover the cost to alter it, Steely said.
The access road will also be roughly 2,200 foot.
Arnold was excited for the added safety the taxiway will bring.
“Any time you can have planes landing and taking off, and have another taxiway to travel down, it’s going to be a lot safer,” he said.
Steely pointed out another potential benefit.
The airport handles general aviation traffic, he said, which includes almost every type of aircraft.
“All the corporate citizens of this country, Fortune 500 people that move people around, that’s all general aviation,” he said. “This new taxiway will accommodate any of those types of aircraft.”
The airport could handle that kind of traffic in the past, but the lack of a taxiway complicated quick entries and exits.
“Maybe you have a small, two-passenger plane taxiing relatively slowly down the runway,” Steely said. “They’re going to have to get down, and turn the plane around back the other way, (and) you may have a corporate citizen that needs to come into this runway.”
Steely said a company with technicians on-board to service a factory might not want to fly around waiting to land while a two-passenger plane taxis on the runway.
“It’s a way to safely accommodate everybody,” he said.
“We hope that it will open up more opportunities,” he said. “We hope that it will be used more. But safety is the big issue.”
Steely said a full-length taxiway was a possibility in the future.
Steely outlined a plan that was approved by the board on Thursday.
Bid opening is tentatively scheduled for sometime between May 2 through May 4. Steely said ground could be broken potentially in July.
Both Steely and Arnold declined to guess what the project might cost since it hasn’t been bid yet.
“I will say this, it’s going to be a significant amount of money and it should generate a lot of interest in contractors,” Steely said.
Steely was ecstatic about the project after the board meeting.
“Having a nice airport facility like this, about half the counties (in the state) don’t have access to an airport like this,” he said. “So, having this facility here is huge. Then, to further enhance it, it just gives you opportunities.”