COLUMBIA - Starting this week, crews will begin paving runways at the Columbia Regional Airport. 

The runway extension will take the primary runway length from 6,500 ft. to 7,400 ft. The additional 900 feet will allow for more distance for planes during landing, take-off and when there's inclement weather.

It will also give more room for larger aircrafts to use the runway in the future.

Work on the runway is not expected to affect air travel or operations at the airport, according to airport manager Mike Parks.

"So, we've been meeting for about 18 months now. And, really to prepare for this. We've been working with Emery Sapp, as well, just to make sure that a runway is available for all the flights," Parks said.  

Emery Sapp & Sons is the contractor for the paving project and will handle the earth working and grading utilities.

"So this week, we're going to start our construction paving, we have roughly 1,340 ft. of paving on the actual runway of two to zero. Then, we'll get into the taxiway paving which is roughly 1,500 linear ft. So, and it's 150 ft. wide on the runway, and 50 foot wide on the taxiway," Kyle Martin, project manager with Emery Sapp & Sons, said.

On July 26, a "blast fence" was installed.  The blast fence made airport runways shorter this summer, however, it was installed to protect employees working on the project. 

The deadline for the current phase of paving the runways is October 9, but the deadline for all of the airport construction is December 21. The new terminal at the Columbia Regional Airport is expected to be complete next summer. 

The paving of the runways was supposed to begin Monday, however, it has been pushed back until the middle of the week.

"We had some technical difficulties, but starting it on Wednesday, we'll still be on track to have the crosswind runway opened up by October," Martin said.  

A portion of paving the runway will be finished in late September.

"And, then we have a lot of electrical work to get done. And striping in the runway for traffic control reasons, and some signage and some more grading to take care of," Martin said.  "But, the next phase of the runway extension project is phase four, which would include regrading of the existing runway and new edge lighting," Martin said. 

"The runway project, October 9, it'll switch over to the new lighting phase. And, so they're going to be doing grading along the primary runway, along with all new lighting, which will go to LED lighting along the primary runway," Parks said. 

The project began back in April.

"We had about 260,000 yards of embankment to put in place before we could start the paving process. Where right now we're on track to get all that completed and be ready to go and meet our deadlines," Martin said.

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