MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The city of Morgantown announced that the Municipal Airport has been approved to extend its runway by 1,001 ft.
The announcement was delivered in a press conference attended by city and airport officials, and the Morgantown Area Partnership, among others. The project is slated to begin in the fall of 2020, take five to 10 years to complete and cost an estimated $50 million. When they complete the runway, it/ will be 6,200 feet long.
“We’re just really excited to make this presentation, it could’ve easily been a press release,” city manager Paul Brake said. “I think it’s worthwhile of celebrating–this is a significant milestone. We’ve been working at it a really long time 5 years on the paperwork, the original vision was brought about 10 years ago so to bring this to fruition it’s very rewarding.”
Brake said the process for approval involved three steps all of which involved the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The first was a justification study explaining why the extension was necessary, then came the environmental assessment to figure out the impact on the environment and finally the funding phase.
The majority of the funding, Brake said was from the federal government and said the FAA was helpful in making the project possible. The hope, Brake said is that they can retain commercial jet service and also to encourage commercial passenger planes and perhaps even bringing in new charter services. Brake said they won’t be able to take on large commercial planes but instead those that can carry 50 passengers or fewer.
He said all of this should be beneficial and help stimulate the city and surrounding communities economically. According to a press release, the project has received support from local businesses, the Monongalia County Commission, Star City, the city of Westover, WVU and the Morgantown Area Partnership.
“The side benefit to this project is where the dirt is coming from to build because in essence at the end of the runway it’s a considerable drop off we have to move 4.4 million cubic yards of dirt and that will be coming from a hilly area that will be flattened out and become a commerce parkway,” Brake said.
The I-68 Commerce Parkway, as it will be known, will be the most significant economic development project in the history of the city and will have a major impact on economic development for the area, the press release said.
Currently, the airport has 50,000 flights taking off and landing each year Brake said. He said there is a demand to grow that number and now they have the opportunity to do just that.