Commission considers changes to runway expansion plan

This aerial photo shows Runway 23 at Frederick Municipal Airport at left. At right, parallel to the runway, is a taxiway.

The airport commission will consider a planning strategy to hasten the long-planned runway extension at Frederick Municipal Airport.

Since 1999, the city of Frederick has been working toward extending runway 5/23 from 5,280 feet to 6,000 feet. 

Increasing the runway length will allow jets to take off fully fueled and able to reach farther destinations without stopping, as well as allow larger jets to use the runway, because heavier planes (whether from size or just more fuel) need longer runways to take off and land. Officials say that will increase fuel sales at the airport and the improved amenity will entice businesses to Frederick, boosting the local economy. 

The commission discussed splitting the project into smaller pieces at a workshop Monday to make it easier to secure funding from the Federal Aviation Administration, which covers 90 percent of the cost of approved projects at the airport.

The FAA recommended that officials break the extension down into smaller pieces that could be accomplished with a budget of $2 million, according to city planner Tim Davis, who met with administration officials last month.

The airport commission is to vote on a proposal to limit the scope of the runway improvement at its Feb. 20 public meeting. Its recommendation would then go before the Frederick Board of Aldermen for a final decision.

The runway needs to expand in two directions to be extended to 6,000 feet: toward East Patrick Street and to the Monocacy River.

Frederick has acquired nearly all the property needed to extend runway 5 toward East Patrick Street over the past decade. Securing the nine easements needed to extend runway 23 to the Monocacy River could take five to 10 more years, according to staff estimates. 

The airport commission discussed removing the runway 23 extension from the plan for now to increase the chances that the FAA will fund the runway 5 extension.

Dropping the improvement to runway 23 would leave the 5/23 runway short of the corporate-friendly 6,000-foot mark, but it could mean that runway 5 is extended from 5,280 to 5,820 feet much sooner.

Even though that plan would put the runway just shy of the goal, it may not be enough to catch the attention of corporations.

“Many corporate flight departments are going to use a clear, bright line. If it's less than 6,000 (feet), it doesn't meet the criteria, but it's a step in the right direction,” commissioner Ted Gregory said.

The airport commissioners present appeared to agree that lengthening the runway to 6,000 feet should remain a focus, even if it needs to be done piecemeal.

One drawback to doing the work in stages could be the cost of changing navigational aids to meet the changing runway layout. The FAA would reimburse Frederick for those costs, but the city would have to front the money and wait for the FAA to inspect the changes and reimburse expenses.

Gregory said that if the airport doesn't do the extension in stages, the project might not move forward at all.

Commission President Art Dee also said that listening to the FAA recommendation and dropping the runway 23 extension would probably be the best way to make sure that it funds the project.

Regardless of whether the city drops the runway 23 end of the extension from the plan it presents to the FAA, completing the project is likely to remain a long-term goal.

“It seems like we have a long-term strategic plan for the airport. The issue now is, what is our officially adopted plan that the FAA uses to make funding decisions?” aldermanic liaison Michael O'Connor asked.

Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.

Information about runway 5/23 was corrected Feb. 11, 2014.

(11) comments

fredneckian

I want to open a taco stand because it will entice more Hispanic people to Frederick and increase overall business and diversification. And the drug stores will have a boon because of selling all the antacid. Win Win Win.

So where is my $2Million gov't handout? I know there has to be just a form somewhere. It's so little money to the gov't they will never notice it.

elymus43

I guess BWI, Dulles, and National airports will probably close?? Who dreams up these ideas?? Frederick is another MAYBERRY, NC and nothing will change that. What is wrong with leaving Frederick alone????

ballenger-creek-golfer

It's called progress.

Anonymous Coward

" These two runways are grouped together because one is used for takeoffs and one for landings."

No. Runways are named after their magnetic heading. When you approach the runway from one direction, it's runway 5. Turn around and approach it from the opposite direction, it's 180 degrees different, so it becomes runway 23. It's the same runway, but you refer to each end with different numbers.

Usually, you land and take off on the same runway. When the wind blows from a different direction, you may start using the runway from a different direction.

ballenger-creek-golfer

Isn't that with any airport?[wink]

kingesquivel

I want to see those Airbus 380s landing here! [beam]

ballenger-creek-golfer

I want to see the airport made into a golf course.[wink]

kjswartz

Oooooh - you gonna park you camera on another reporter when they open the runways?

NASCARLOVER

As long as we're "wishing", how about a NASCAR track!! [wink][wink]

Comment deleted.
NASCARLOVER

YEP, just like the good 'ole Frederick Fair...[wink]

ballenger-creek-golfer

It looks like someone needs a sense of humor.[wink]

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