A Federal Aviation Agency grant will pay 90 percent of the cost to expand the runway from 50 to 75 feet wide, Arnold said. The Georgia Department of Transportation and city will split the remaining 10 percent, leaving the city with a $30,000 bill for the expansion.
The widening of the runway will make landing and takeoff safer for some of the jets that use the runway, he said.
They can land as far as the length of the runway, but 50 feet is kind of narrow and theyre hesitant (to land) because of the width of the runway, Arnold said. By widening it to 75 feet it gives extra margins for any error on takeoff and landing.
Jets fly into the airport at 160 to 190 mph, he said.
Fifty feet is very narrow when youre traveling that fast, Arnold said. A lot of the corporate pilots will fly on into Chattanooga now rather than land here.
The expansion provides more incentive for existing industry to remain in LaFayette and encourage other businesses to near the city.
Engineers are developing the plans, which must then be submitted to the FAA for approval, Arnold said. If all goes according to plan, the airport will close for 30 days in October to widen the landing strip. If the process takes longer than expected, construction will be pushed back to spring 2007.
The FAA wont allow construction during the winter due to the threat of inclement weather slowing construction and extending the closure of the flight facility.
A new taxiway, also funded by an FAA grant, is nearing completion, Arnold said.
The pavement is down, he said. Theres some little things on the punch list were trying to clear up and get finished so we can close out that contract.
The LaFayette City Council has approved a five-year facilities plan for the airport that outlines possible future projects including remodeling or replacing the airport terminal, adding taxilanes to airplane hangars and building additional hangars, Arnold said.
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