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Runway extension on schedule

July 14, 2004|by TARA REILLY

Across U.S. 11 from Hagerstown Regional Airport, dump trucks and digging equipment are a common sight.

The land, surrounded by farmland, is being prepared for a longer runway that will extend over U.S. 11.

So far, the county-owned airport has spent $3.3 million on the $60.2 million project that began after the airport broke ground in April, Budget and Finance Director Debra Bastian said.

A big chunk of the project's first phase includes transporting 1.5 million to 2 million cubic yards of dirt from the county's Forty West Landfill to the airport to be used as filler around one end of the runway.

As of this week, more than 200,000 cubic yards of dirt have been moved.

"The bottom line is the overall project is on schedule ... if not a day or two ahead," Airport Manager Carolyn Motz told the County Commissioners on Tuesday.

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The commissioners met with airport officials to discuss the progress of the extension project and to tour the land on which the longer runway will be built.

The project will extend Runway 9-27 from 5,461 feet to 7,000 feet and add 1,000-foot safety areas at each end of the runway, bringing it up to Federal Aviation Administration mandates.

The FAA is footing the bill for most of the project by agreeing to pay $47 million of the $60.2 million price tag. The state agreed to pay $10.6 million and the county will pay $2.6 million toward construction. As of Tuesday, the county had received about $2.5 million from those funding sources.

The commissioners hired C. William Hetzer Inc. in March to complete the first of the extension's four phases. Completion of the first phase is anticipated in May 2006, and the remaining three phases will be completed by December 2007, according to the airport's Web site.

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