City leaders are one step closer to runway improvements at Columbia Regional Airport, a plan they hope leads to more development at the airport.
ABC 17 News has been keeping track of an extensive list of proposed upgrades at the airport including a $33 million terminal. But before that happens, existing infrastructure needs to be improved.
Airport leaders tell us in order to further develop the airport there needs to be a lot more sites like this behind me. Construction to the taxi ways are just one line in a laundry list of things that need to happen before a new terminal would be built.
The new site for the terminal would be in the northeast of the airport property. Currently it's an empty field. The proposed designs approved by the council and the airport advisory board would have it be a two story building and cost more than $30 million. But the problem is they still don't where the money will come from.
“It's all a matter of funding,” Airport Advisory Board chairman Greg Cecil explained. “If we're going to rely on FAA funding we're going to have to wait to get all of our improvements done on our runways and those types of things first.
Cecil says there are areas on the runways right now in need of repair. There are cracks and seams that need to be replaced. Airport leaders also believe making the runways longer would make it more attractive for potential airlines.
But in order to get funding from the FAA, an environmental impact study needs to be done. That study was presented to the board. No major problems or impacts were found. Since that's the case, the city now has the option to ask the FAA for money and go ahead with the plans if they want to. Officials believe the improvements could be a long-term fix.
“They're fine now for this service we have in and out of the airport, but it's more of a being able to expand for the future and do some improvements,” Cecil said.
By expanding the runways they believe it would be attractive to larger planes and possibly lead to bringing in more airlines. Officials say it might take a few years to complete the runways. They think it could take seven years before the new terminal is done.