While the county board of commissioners voted to kill a proposed runway expansion at the Carroll County Regional Airport in January, a new master plan could determine that a longer runway is necessary to handle different planes.
The Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 Thursday for Delta Airport Consultants to create a plan that breaks down its expected cost for developing a new airport master plan. The master plan, which takes three to four years to complete, includes interviews with airport-based businesses as well as analysis of the types of planes now using the airport and the kinds of planes that will be using the airport in the future.
Based on all the information gathered, Delta will determine the airport's "critical aircraft," which is the largest plane that can be reasonably expected to use the airport in an ongoing capacity in the future.
In 2007, when the last master plan was developed, Delta identified the Gulfstream V as the airport's critical aircraft. As a result, the county proposed extending the runway by 1,300 feet to 6,400 feet to accommodate the type of aircraft that Delta anticipated the airport will be seeing in the future.
Commissioners on the current five-member board feared that extending the runway would bring larger planes and additional problems, so they voted 3-2 against the project in January. Both 3-2 votes had Commissioners Doug Howard, R-District 5, and Dave Roush, R-District 3, in favor of extending the runway.
Despite the board's action, Delta could determine that planes which require longer runways may be the airport's critical aircraft in the new master plan, according to Jeff Topper, deputy director of the county Department of Public Works. The board will have no authority to change or suggest a different critical aircraft to be in the plan, Topper said.
The board, however, can choose not to approve the plan. If that happens, Topper said, the board will not be in compliance with its current airport master plan. As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Maryland Aviation Administration may choose to withhold funding for future capital improvement projects, Topper said.
Currently, the board is planning to resurface the 5,100-foot runway for about $5 million in 2017. The county would only have to pay 5 percent, or $250,000, for the runway repaving if it receives funding from both the FAA and MAA. Or it can be on the hook for the entire amount if the county is not in compliance with its goals in the airport master plan.
Howard supported extending the airport runway and talked about the consequences of the board's decision if it chooses to not extend the runway. The board still has the option to keep the current master plan and move forward with the extension, Topper said.
Howard and county staff brought up a number of different factors for the board to consider on Thursday.