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Avery and Ashe Public Airports Receive $3,391,680 in Infrastructure Projects Grant Funding

By Tim Gardner

The North Carolina Board of Transportation has approved state and federal grants for various infrastructure improvement projects at a dozen North Carolina airports–including those in Avery and Ashe counties.

Almost $7 million in state and federal funding has been awarded for projects that will improve runway lighting, establish new fueling areas, expand taxiways and otherwise help these airports grow and generally expand their services.

An overall total of $6,944,476 was awarded.

Avery’s public airport at Morrison Field, located in the far southern section of the county in the Ingalls Community, received the state’s highest grant amount and almost half of the total funds, with $3 million awarded. The money will be used to construct a new partial-length parallel taxiway and to finish the expansion of the aircraft parking apron.

“This will definitely benefit the county and all who use the our airport big time,” said Sam Calvert, Chairman of the Avery County Airport Authority. “Safety is the most important thing here- currently, planes go directly on to the runway to take off. The taxiway eliminates that.”

Calvert added: “The new funding will also be used to open up new areas of our airport for hangars, which will help bring development and tax revenue to the area.”

The Ashe County Airport was provided grant money totaling $391,680. That includes $220,500 to clear obstructions from the runway protection zones at the airport and $171,180 in additional funds to replace the existing fueling system and install a new fence around the airport’s terminal area.

Other grants the N.C. Board of Transportation approved for state airports included:

$278,100 in additional Economic Development Funds to expand city sewer access to new hangar developments at Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport;

$1.4 million to reimburse land acquisition costs at Cape Fear Regional Jetport in Southport;

$75,000 to repair drainage areas at Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport;

$200,000 to conduct a geotechnical investigation ahead of the installation of a new haul/access road at Jackson County Airport;

$234,000 to conduct an environmental assessment for planned development at Johnston Regional Airport;

$191,196 to update the airport layout plan at Montgomery County Airport;

$54,000 in additional funding to complete the construction and activation of a new self-service fueling area at Montgomery County Airport;

$463,500 in additional funds for the design/bid of a new LED airfield lighting system at Moore County Airport;

$315,000 in additional funding to expand the scope of the design/bid of the runway safety area widening project to also include the runway and other paved areas at Person County Airport;

$117,000 to clear obstructing trees from the approaches at Raleigh Executive Jetport in Sanford; and

$225,000 to update the airport layout plan at Shelby-Cleveland County Regional Airport.

North Carolina’s 72 public airports serve as a vital economic engine connecting people and business enterprises with the world and are among the primary economic drivers in their communities. Airports and aviation-related industries contribute more than $52 billion to North Carolina’s economy each year, according to the 2019 State of Aviation report. These airports support 307,000 jobs, generate more than $2.2 billion in state and local tax revenue and provide more than $12.6 billion in personal income.

State Aviation officials pointed out, though, that the funds awarded do not necessarily represent the total cost of the projects.