County takes first step to runway expansion

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 10/16/17

The Walker County Commission on Monday agreed to ask for a study that in time could lead to a 2,000-foot extension of the Walker County Airport-Bevill Field.

The commission agreed to a resolution that County Engineer Mike Short said involves a contract to enter into a contract with the Alabama Department of Transportation for funding for the airport. The funding is for a study that would show if it is feasible and viable to extend the runway from 5,000 feet to 7,000 feet, which would allow military aircraft to use the airport and purchase fuel.

“It is going to be somewhat involved, but it is a requirement that these studies be performed in a timely fashion,” Short said.

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County takes first step to runway expansion

Posted

The Walker County Commission on Monday agreed to ask for a study that in time could lead to a 2,000-foot extension of the Walker County Airport-Bevill Field.

The commission agreed to a resolution that County Engineer Mike Short said involves a contract to enter into a contract with the Alabama Department of Transportation for funding for the airport. The funding is for a study that would show if it is feasible and viable to extend the runway from 5,000 feet to 7,000 feet, which would allow military aircraft to use the airport and purchase fuel.

“It is going to be somewhat involved, but it is a requirement that these studies be performed in a timely fashion,” Short said.

Short and District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis were on a recent Leadership Walker County team that advocated making improvements at the airport.

Davis said the airport “is a great asset to this county. This is one of the things that was recommended.” 

He noted costs and the funding availability are not certain, but that hopefully this would start the process to extend the runway. Doing that would lead to a “ton of possibilities for Walker County.” 

Davis said, “The economic impact could be massive.”

District 4 Commissioner Steven Aderholt asked Short about the costs of the project. Short said the federal government would normally pay 95 percent, with the state paying another 5 percent.

“This may be in the neighborhood of $75,000,” Short said, indicating the county may then pay less $5,000 for its 5 percent. However, it may still take years to save up the federal money to do the project at the airport.

At the same time, Davis and Short said it was a first step.

District 3 Commissioner Ralph Williams said Harbor Freight has one of the largest planes using the airport.

“They cannot fill their airplane up to get off the ground because they run out of pavement. They can only partially fill up their plane just to get off the ground and then they have to land somewhere else to get fuel to their next destination,” he said. “Extending that runway would be huge. It would be a huge plus.” 

Chairman Jerry Bishop agreed, saying that the plan needs to be discussed. He said he has been at airfields across the nation and he has also been an industrial board member.

“This helps people coming in here,” Bishop said. “We had one Western company to say, ‘We’re not even going to look at you if we can’t fuel our airplane up and not have to stop before we get back home. It doesn’t mean you spend a bunch of money. It just means you look at it. I think it is a great plan.”