Runway project cleared for takeoff

February 10, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Washington County's proposed six-year capital improvement program includes for the first time an estimated $38.3 million extension of a Hagerstown Regional Airport runway.

cont. from front page

The proposed capital improvement program, discussed by the County Commissioners at a budget workshop Thursday, lists an estimated $5 million in runway-related costs in fiscal 2003 and $16.7 million in fiscal years 2004 and 2005.

The county's fiscal year begins July 1.

The project's inclusion in the first draft of the capital improvement program does not necessarily mean the runway will be extended, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said after the meeting.

The intent is to show the Federal Aviation Administration that Washington County's interest in the project is serious, he said.

"It gives a clearer picture of what we're doing," Shoop said.

The program calls for $34.5 million of the $38.3 million to come from federal grants, Shoop said.

The county and state would each put up $1.91 million for the project, he said.


The total cost of extending the 5,450-foot runway to 7,000 feet has been estimated at up to $40 million because the extension would cross U.S. 11.

The $38.3 million estimated cost came from the FAA and is the first official estimate on the project, but Shoop said it is a rough guess.

The County Commissioners have not voted to extend the runway but they approved a justification study which has begun and will be completed within 30 days, Shoop said.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Hagerstown Committee have endorsed the runway extension.

Airport Manager Carolyn Motz has said that if the airport's runway isn't enlarged to better accommodate 19- and 30-passenger turboprop planes and more efficient jet-powered planes, it could become obsolete.

The so-called regional jets might not be able to safely take off and land in Hagerstown, she said.

Thursday's meeting was a continuation of a Feb. 1 discussion of the capital improvement program by the County Commissioners.

The CIP is part of the overall annual budget which is generally adopted in the spring. The county adopts the CIP for only one year at a time.

The proposed fiscal 2001 capital improvement program is $20.67 million, down from about $26 million this fiscal year.

The largest chunk of CIP funding for next year is $6.3 million for solid waste projects.

The high solid waste costs are due to state requirements regarding the closing of Resh Sanitary Landfill and the opening of its replacement, the Forty West Landfill, also known as the Lund Landfill.

The proposed 2001 CIP calls for $4.15 million for Board of Education projects, including renovating South Hagerstown High School and Clear Spring Elementary School.

The program includes $3.1 million for water and sewer projects, $1.7 million for general government and $1.6 million for road improvements.

The program also lists $1.9 million for railroad crossings, $305,000 for drainage, $722,350 for the Hagerstown Regional Airport, $287,775 for parks and $508,194 for Hagerstown Community College.

The County Commissioners Thursday did not discuss money in the six-year program for YMCA expansion and county government downtown expansion. Those items were discussed at a Feb. 1 meeting.

The proposed CIP lists $250,000 in each of the next three fiscal years for the Hagerstown YMCA to help pay for a planned $8.8 million building to be built on Eastern Boulevard.

The YMCA board of directors on Tuesday made its case for the money and Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook promised a decision on YMCA funding in the next few weeks.

The program contains $1.6 million for downtown expansion. That would include $700,000 moved to the CIP from last fiscal year's budget surplus and $300,000 from fiscal 2002, 2003 and 2004, according to budget documents.

Shoop has said the County Commissioners will vote Tuesday on whether to spend $1.6 million to buy a downtown building but wouldn't say which one.

County sources have said the building under consideration is the 12,500-square-foot Farmers & Merchants Bank building at Baltimore and Hood streets.

The Herald-Mail Articles