Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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July 12, 2014

Airport Advisory Board continues to pursue lengthening progress

Athens — The Athens Airport Advisory Board continues to pursue lengthening of the Municipal Airport, and received an update Thursday from its liaison with the Texas Department of Transportation. The meeting was held at the Athens Training Center on South  Prairieville Street.

Phil Becker said the staffing had changed at the TxDOT aviation planning unit with David Fulton now in charge.

“We’re hoping that Mr. Fulton will listen to us next week about clarifying the issue of the airport operations so we can get our numbers to the point where TxDOT will take a look at, and accept our more than 500 operations a year for itinerant aircraft,” Becker said.

Last year, after a series of meetings with TxDOT concerning the expansion, Athens learned that before additional action can be taken, the city was required to submit user-support letters to TxDOT from those who use the airport, explaining why they would benefit from the additional runway length.

In December, Gary Crecelius, Athens Director of Planning and Development, informed the airport board that the Airport Improvement Surveys had been mailed out.

The surveys indicated more than 800 additional operations might have occurred with the expanded-runway length,   which is more than the minimum 500 operations for expansion of the Athens Municipal Airport.

Those results were submitted to the state officials, but the number accepted was less than 300. The board is working to get that number over the minimum.

Becker said he hopes to also be able to discuss with TxDOT a change in the design of the airport runway, which would give the runway a minimum width of 100 feet with the length yet to be determined.

“The extension of the existing runway to the south is essentially a non-starter, both in the eyes of the TxDOT, as well as the city.” Becker said. “We are hoping to take a look at a lineup that is skewed a little more to the southeast.”

Becker was appointed liaison at the June 10 Athens City Council meeting. He has a long history in aviation, and is an organizer of a major air show at Cedar Creek Lake each summer. Becker is also well-versed in the grant process, and has shown a keen interest in the Athens Airport project.

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