The Tennessee Aeronautics Division requires all county-operated airports to regularly update a capital improvement plan.
However, Chuck Hoskins, who represented the Aeronautics Division at Tuesday’s Airport Committee meeting, noted that placing a project in the plan doesn’t obligate the county to proceed with that project.
In fact, some of the proposed projects in the plan probably aren’t realistic, including the long-discussed extension of the airport runway from 3,500 feet to 5,000 feet.
That project has been mulled over by county commissioners for more than a decade because it could potentially make the county more desirable for new industrial development.
But when the runway extension has been discussed in the past, the location of the airport — in the middle of a Surgoinsville residential neighborhood — has always made land acquisition a major stumbling block.
The Airport Committee agreed Tuesday to place runway land acquisition on the plan for 2015 at a projected cost of $835,000, followed in 2015 by completion of a $50,000 runway extension justification study and a $50,000 environmental impact study.
Actual construction of the runway extension, projected to cost $2.5 million, was placed on the plan for 2018. All of these projects, should they come to fruition, would be eligible for grant funding that would cover 95 percent of the cost.
Other projects include installation of security lighting for $50,000 in 2013 and the possible construction of a “spec” T-hangar in 2014 for $600,000.
Land acquisition for the T-hangar, also set for 2013, is projected at $150,000.
Hoskins recommended placing construction of the T-hangar higher on the priority list than a proposed $450,000 maintenance hangar, which was approved Tuesday for 2015.
A T-hangar can house 8-10 planes, and Hoskins said some counties have constructed T-hangars to make their airports financially self-sufficient by charging rent for bays.
In the past, Hawkins County has allowed airplane owners to build their own hangars in exchange for the hangar transferring to county possession after 20 years.
Hoskins said maintenance hangars, which generally house up to two planes at a time, aren’t big revenue generators.
Other projects included in the capital improvement plan approved by the committee Tuesday are a proposed $220,000 terminal expansion in 2018 and construction of a parallel taxiway for a proposed $1.5 million in 2019.
On Monday, the full Hawkins County Commission will consider a resolution accepting an Aeronautics Division grant for $893,000 with a $47,000 match to cover the cost of projects including repaving the runway, which previously had been listed on the improvement plan for 2010.
Other projects covered by that grant include elimination of a “line-of-sight” obstruction in the center of the runway; drainage improvements; and installing a self-service fueling system.