Columbia Regional Airport Improvements
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Regional Airport advisory board met Wednesday to discuss upcoming airport improvements. The board is creating designs for maintenance on taxi ways, as well as lengthening and widening the runways. County Route H will be moved further north to accommodate the new runway length. A new ten foot fence will line the airport perimeter and below ground, to protect it from surrounding wildlife. Once the designs are presented to the Federal Aviation Administration and approved in the fall, the only thing stopping the board is funding. "It's all about the money," said Chairman Greg Cecil.
In years past, the FAA has matched ninety five percent of the airport's funds for improvements with the remaining five percent coming from community members. This year, the FAA has agreed to match ninety percent, leaving the board to come up with five percent more then they had budgeted. The board estimates the total cost from the changes will cost almost fifty million dollars.
"Maybe we'll have some money left over from the funds we didn't use for snow removal," said Cecil.
Planes servicing out of Columbia are averaging eighty percent capacity, so the improvements are necessary for the high traffic the airport gets. It could take three to five years before the runways are completed, but the airport plans on staying open throughout the improvements.