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Runway expansion will help economy

October 31, 2012
By MARK LAW , For The Weirton Daily Times

WINTERSVILLE - A meeting was held Tuesday between federal, state and local officials at the Jefferson County Airpark to discuss the runway expansion project.

But local officials already are looking forward to the next improvement - a GPS instrument approach - that they believe will open the airport for even more development.

The Ohio Department of Transportation and Ohio Department of Development each have contributed a $750,000 grant, with the Jefferson County commissioners kicking in $500,000, to expand the runway.

The meeting was held to discuss how to proceed with the project, from selecting an engineer to contractors.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said a committee of county and airport officials met prior to the meeting to go over qualifications submitted by prospective engineers. Gentile said six firms submitted qualifications and three were eliminated at the meeting.

Gentile credited U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, with going to the Federal Aviation Administration to get the federal agency to certify the approaches for the expanded runway. The certified approaches are needed by pilots for takeoffs and landings.

Gentile said the runway use has increased in the past year with the oil and gas industry development.

The runway will be expanded from 4,400 feet to 6,000 feet long and from 60 feet to 75 feet wide.

Some corporate jets can't use the existing runway because of insurance requirements.

Brad Biggs, Ohio Department of Transportation, Office of Jobs and Commerce regional manager, said the state and county will pay an equal share as the work progresses, which will result in the county not paying for the project up front. Briggs said the project will be managed by local officials, who will make the decisions on how to proceed.

Gentile said the runway expansion will mainly consist of earth moving and asphalt paving. He noted the runway is scheduled for an asphalt overlay in 2014 or 2015. He asked Johnson for help in getting the FAA to move the asphalt overlay up so it is done right after the runway expansion work is completed.

Johnson said the FAA will be in a good position to make that decision because of the cooperation.

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