Bids about $3 million lower than expected on the Carroll County Regional Airport expansion will allow the project to be completed in about half the time projected, county general services director J. Michael Evans told the county Economic Development Commission yesterday.
The Carroll County commissioners accepted a $5.6 million bid for the project from Dewey Jordan of Frederick this month. County officials had expected phase one to cost them about $8.74 million.
The contract award is technically still pending until the county receives final approval from the federal government, Mr. Evans said.
The Federal Aviation Administration is paying for 90 percent of the project, the state is paying for 5 percent and the county will pick up the remaining 5 percent.
"We expect the project to be built in 18 months instead of 30," said Mr. Evans. "We are asking for less money, so we should get it faster."
Dewey Jordan built the Piney Run Reservoir and the bridge on the Interstate 195 spur to the Baltimore-Washington Airport.
Mr. Evans also told commission members the airport will handle planes with no more than a 79-foot wingspan after the expansion.
Lear jets, Citations, medium-sized twin-engine corporate jets and Gulf Streams, which hold 19 passengers, are the largest planes the airport could handle, he said.
"The expansion does not involve a control tower or large planes," he said. "The plan is to bring in executives. The only thing that could come out of here that is not planned is a commuter service.
"Commercial flights are not planned."
Residents of Kalten Acres, a community next to the airport, expressed concerns at a hearing last week that eventually 727s and commercial flights would be using the longer runway.
The planned runway expansion -- from 3,200 feet to 5,100 feet -- is still too short and narrow for commercial planes, Mr. Evans said.
Mr. Evans also said that a county-requested report issued this month by Delta Airport Consultants predicts the number of airplanes based at the Carroll County Regional Airport will rise from the current 109 planes to 139 in the next five years.
Report projections are for 120 single-engine planes, 12 twin-engine planes, three multi-engine turbo planes, two small jets and two helicopters by 1998, he said. The report says the county should expect 216 planes to be stationed at the regional airport by the year 2013.
Delta's report said about 120,000 operations per year are projected by 2103. An operation, in flight terms, is either a takeoff or a landing, Mr. Evans said.
For all practical purposes, the airport's hours of operation are from sunrise to sunset, Mr. Evans said. However, some pilots are able to turn on the runway lights from the air to land, refuel and take off again at night.
"It's an open airport, so we don't know who comes in and out [after airport employees have left for the evening]," he said.