A better look: New airport terminal serves as city gateway

Published 5:56 pm Thursday, May 21, 2015

CITY OF WASHINGTON READY FOR USE: The new terminal building at the Washington-Warren Airport has about 4,500 square feet of space to serve private pilots, corporate aircraft and aviation-related activities.

READY FOR USE: The new terminal building at the Washington-Warren Airport has about 4,500 square feet of space to serve private pilots, corporate aircraft and aviation-related activities.

Tony Tata, secretary of the N.C. Department of Transportation, will help dedicate the new terminal building at Washington-Warren Airport at 2 p.m. Memorial Day.

Tata, a retired Army brigadier general, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the grand opening of the building, which replaces the terminal building destroyed by a gustnado July 1, 2012. Also expected to attend the ceremony are city officials, including members of the city’s airport advisory board.

An open house will follow the ribbon-cutting segment of the ceremony.

The airport, owned by the city, is located at the west end of Airport Road and adjacent to the McConnell Sports Complex.

Tata, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., was appointed DOT secretary by Gov. Pat McCrory in January 2013. Bobby Walston, director of DOT’s Division of Aviation, also is scheduled to speak. Allen Lewis, the city’s public works director, plans to discuss the construction of the new facility.

In a brief interview, Lewis said the new facility has its major furnishings, but items such as artwork depicting area scenes, minor furnishings and some kitchenware have not yet been purchased. Lewis believes the new terminal building will serve as an impressive gateway to the city.

“I believe its curb appeal. Everything about it … from the curb appeal to the first impression when you see it (from the) outside,” said Lewis about the appearance of the new facility. “When you walk in the door, it doesn’t stop from the outside.”

Lewis said DOA officials, within two days of the gustnado, committed to helping the city replace the destroyed terminal building.

“Within a few weeks they told us we would have a grant of $500,000 to help us build back. Within a few months … we had that promise in writing,” Lewis said. “They significantly helped us get where we are today.”

In December 2013, the City Council awarded an $899,905.50 contract to A.R. Chesson Construction Co. to build a new terminal building at Washington-Warren Airport.

Most of the funding for this project came from three sources; $500,000 in N.C. Division of Aviation grant funds, $199,277 in Vision 100 airport funds and $200,628.50 in insurance proceeds, according to city documents. The new terminal building includes amenities that former terminal building did not offer.

The new terminal building has a porch area on the ground floor, complete with rocking chairs. The ground floor also includes office space, a kitchen, restrooms, a lobby, a conference room and an area where pilots may rest and make flight plans. That area will be accessible to pilots around the clock. The upper floor includes an observation deck and a multipurpose room.

In addition to the new terminal building, other improvements have occurred or are taking place at the airport.

The city is using $89,109 in state grant funds to help pay for lighting rehabilitation for runway 5-23. The city is providing $9,901 (or 10 percent) of the total $99,010 in state aid to airports earmarked for that project. This grant will be combined with another grant, approved by the council June 9, 2014, to help fund airport improvements. The overall project’s cost is $419,740.80, according to a city document.

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation is providing $288,657.90 toward the overall project, with $89,109 coming from the Vision 100 funds program. The city is providing $41,974.10 toward the overall project cost. The project deadline is July 1, 2018.

The project includes replacing the runway edge lights, replacing the runway lighting circuit and installing a new, lighted wind cone, among other work.

In December, the council amended the city’s budget ordinance to complete funding for engineering services for the engineering of the approach surveys and analysis project at the airport.

The city has been using a combination of grant funding and city dollars to pay for airport improvements. The first allocation of the 2014 Vision 100 grant is needed to complete funding for the airport approach study, according to a memorandum from Matt Rauschenbach, the city’s administrative services director and chief financial officer, to the mayor and council members.

The council’s action increased the airport fund by $5,620 (from the Vision 100 grant) and by $626 (appropriated from the city’s fund balance as the city’s grant match) for a total increase in the airport fund of $6,246.

The approach study will focus on runway 5-23 and runway 17-35 at the city-owned airport.

City officials view the airport as one of the city’s economic-development tools. For that reason, they said, they are seeking funding sources, mostly grants, to help pay for improvements at the airport so it can complete with similar airports in the area.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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