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Airport Commission Discusses Needed Improvements at the Union County Airport

Daniel Prince

FAA money may be available as fiscal year nears end

At Thursday’s meeting of the Union County Airport Commission, Airport Manager Ronnie Wade talked about several improvements that the airport is working toward. He said the city is working on a grant to get a fire hydrant on the airport property, which is something the fire department wanted. He also talked about the need for an access road that goes all around the runway. He said that would be important for fire services, maintenance, and security. One of the commissioners said he was given a price of $20,000 for the work. Wade said there were some hunters that were coming onto the property, and having the road would help airport personnel check the perimeter of the property. He said it would also help emergency personnel in the event that a plane overshoots the runway or has another type of accident.

Along with the road, a security fence around the perimeter of the airport was discussed. One problem with both the road and the fence is the continued regrowth of trees on the property. Those will need to be cut back to make room for fencing and an access road. David Anderson, who works in aviation safety and compliance, said that the FAA will very likely provide money to put up a fence around the property, as that is a security issue. The access road would need to soon follow so that airport personnel could check to make sure the fence had not been cut or otherwise breached at any point.

Wade said that the fence and the road will likely have to wait a while, as they are trying to get a grant for parallel taxiways. Part of that will necessitate moving some graves that are on the property. He said that will need to be done before the fence could be installed. Lighting, painting, and signage were also mentioned as improvements that are in the works at the airport. Repaving the parking lot was also mentioned. It might be done along with the larger repaving project that is coming up. It will cost around $58,000. They talked about the need to run lines and do any other work for possible infrastructure needs before the resurfacing happens.

Anderson encouraged the airport commissioners to think big, as he said the FAA gets money toward the end of the fiscal year sometimes that needs to be spent. They need to be thinking about projects that will improve the airport and go after the funding for them. He told them to keep runway expansion in mind, as well. He said 5001 feet is the magic number to be able to land jets at the airport. Any shorter than that and insurance will not cover any accidents that might happen. Currently, the airport runway is 3500 feet. Wade said expansion has been talked about for years, and they want to extend the runway 500 feet in one direction and 1000 feet in the other.

The meeting adjourned, and members of Union County Council toured parts of the airport before leaving to beat a thunderstorm that was coming in.

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