New Windsor firm gets contract to install 2 fuel tanks at airport


A New Windsor contractor will install two 12,000-gallon fuel tanks at the Carroll County Regional Airport, doubling the facility's storage capacity and allowing for increased sales of jet fuel.

The county commissioners awarded a $128,900 contract yesterday, the lowest of four bids, to Subsurface Technology. The contract requires the installation and connection to existing pumps and outfitting each tank with sensors and a leak-detection system.

"It is nice that they are local," Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said of the contractor.

The tanks should be in operation by summer, but "we need them now," said Gary Horst, who supervises the airport as administrator of the county's Office of Performance Auditing and Special Projects.

The 155-acre airport property, which opened in 1979 on Route 97 outside Westminster, handles about 100,000 flights a year and is considered a reliever airport for Baltimore-Washington International and other larger airports in the area.

Fuel sales in Fiscal 2004, which ended June 30, exceeded the total for the previous fiscal year by more than 100,000 gallons, an increase of more than 80 percent. Sales are expected to top 550,000 gallons this year, Horst said. Fuel sales and revenues from fully leased corporate hangars should put the airport in the black for the first time in many years, he said.

The new tanks will provide additional storage and relieve concerns about shortages. Airport administrators have to wait until the two 12,000-gallon tanks are nearly empty before filling them again from tankers, which carry 8,000 gallons. The haulers deliver fuel to the airport within 24 hours of requests, but increased traffic can spike demand. A typical jet will fill up with 2,500 gallons of fuel.

"We need static storage, so we don't run out," Horst said. "The new tanks will give us storage flexibility."

They will also help as the airport expands during the next few years, Horst said.

A technical advisory committee, appointed by the commissioners, is considering extending the airport's one runway or building another. Costs for either option will exceed $40 million, Horst said.

"Our 5,100-foot runway, built in the mid-1980s, could accommodate industrial standards at that time," said Horst. "By today's standards, we are looking at 6,500 feet."

The committee will review economic impact data at its Feb. 9 meeting and should be able to make its recommendation to the commissioners shortly after that, Horst said. The recommendation will figure heavily into the effort to rework the airport's master plan, a nearly $250,000 effort, nearly all of which is funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.

"We are talking about whether to expand or extend the runway and if so, how that will benefit the airport and the county," Horst said. "An airport should be a stimulus to the local economy."

The county has leased all seven of its $4 million corporate hangars. The leases are expected to bring in $420,000 annually in revenue. With the recent $1.3 million purchase of 14 acres adjoining the airport, the county could expand its hangar operation.

The county has recently made several improvements to the airport, including a $350,000 security fence around the facility's perimeter and a $3 million expansion of the airport's apron, an area for aircraft next to the terminal.

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