Athens Review, Athens, Texas

September 11, 2013

Airport studied again

Efforts to expand facility to be discussed Thursday

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The City of Athens meets with the Airport Advisory Board on Thursday to update efforts to expand the airport runway.

The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Athens Training Center on Prairieville Street. On July 2, the board voted to support plans for the proposed future runway extension and recommend that the Athens City Council proceed with proposed plans.

That was followed on July 24 by a meeting of the council and the Athens Economic Development Corporation. Some members of the Airport Board were also present at the meeting as observers.

During the council and AEDC meeting, city officials received somewhat discouraging information from the Texas Department of Transportation on the effectiveness and cost of the expansion project.

TxDOT aviation planner Matthew Felton said the cost of expanding the runway from its current 3,998 feet to the desired 5,000 feet would be about $4.8 million. That includes $1,170,000 for rehabilitation of the current airport and $3,611,000 for the extension. Athens would have to put up a 10-percent local match.

Expansion opportunities for the airport were limited by roads on each end of the airport. Because of the cost of moving the roads, that option was taken off the table.

Felton told the officials that before additional action can be taken, the city must submit user-support letters to TxDOT from those who use the airport, explaining why they would benefit from the additional runway length.

City Administrator Pam Burton followed up by sending surveys to the airport users to get their input. Mayor Jerry Don Vaught said he was interested in what the results of the survey would say.