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City sending airport plan to DOT

By Staff
Seeking funds to pay for up to $7.7 million in suggested upgrades
By MIKE VOSS
Contributing Editor
Washington’s City Council has adopted a five-year plan for improving Warren Field Airport, which the city owns.
The city will submit the plan for 2009-2013 to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation. The plan addresses improvements needed to meet DOA’s minimum standards. Such plans are used by DOT to allocate state funds to airports and federal funds DOA receives for airport projects in the state.
The proposed plan calls for spending up to $7.7 million during the five-year period. The council’s approval of the plan does not commit local money to pay for the recommended improvements. The council’s approval is “an acknowledgement that the projects being submitted are consistent with the goals and objectives of the local governing board and that matching funds could be obtained within a reasonable time should the projects be approved by the NCDOT-DOA,” reads a memorandum from James Tripp, the city’s enterprise funds controller, to the mayor and council.
The council has instructed city staff to aggressively seek funding sources such as grants and low-interest loans to help pay for airport improvements
The city’s plan will be reviewed and used by the Division of Aviation as it allocates state funds and federally funded grants to airports in the state.
The proposed plan includes many recommended improvements included in a report presented to the council by John Massey with Talbert &Bright, the city’s airport engineers, in December 2006. Massey reviewed a list of projects for the city to add to the state’s aviation transportation improvement program.
For more than a year, the Division of Aviation has recommended the city pursue projects that total $3.34 million, which would be phased in during the next several years time frame. The division would like to see an additional $4.485 million in “requested” projects, also to be accomplished in phases, come to fruition in that same period of time.
The recommended projects include lengthening the main runway by 500 feet, acquiring land for runway protection zones and lighting for approaches, taxiways and apron edges. The requested projects include building T-hangars and corporate hangars, acquiring a runway sweeper and runway repairs.
According to Talbert &Bright, many grants the city may obtain to make improvements at the airport would cover 90 percent of costs associated with a project, with the city having to provide revenues to cover the remaining 10 percent of a project’s cost.