COLUMBIA — Only a handful of people showed up to hear plans for the multi-million dollar upgrades to the Columbia Regional Airport on Thursday.
The airport is updating its master plan to conform to new Federal Aviation Administration standards. RS&H, a facilities and infrastructure firm, is helping with a plan to extend both the crosswind and main runways and repair deteriorating pavement.
The public information meeting, held at the Daniel Boone City Building, featured the Airport Advisory Board’s proposed solution to the issues surrounding the upgrades and the process it followed to make its decision.
“They spent a lot of up-front time with us, letting us understand what their objectives are. So, we understood what the fiscal objectives were, understood what their operational objectives are,” said Joe Jackson, vice-president of aviation for RS&H. “ … It allows the process to work. This is a good solution. I would spend my money for it.”
The final design of upgrades was picked from a number of options presented by RS&H. The solution includes repairing pavement on both runways and the taxiing intersections; extending the main runway 900 feet to the north; and shifting the crosswind runway 1,000 feet east, including a 600-foot extension.
The changes would make the airport meet new FAA standards outlining a required line of visibility connecting both runways.
Sherrie Brown, who lives just south of the airport, attended the meeting and said she was there to see what was going on in her backyard.
The next step in the process is to nail down cost estimates projected at roughly $3.9 million for the city. The project is expected to extend over a 20-year period. Environmental effects and other factors are expected to get a closer look before the project is bid out.
Jackson is excited about moving forward with the project and thinks Columbia Regional Airport will have a bright future as it continues to develop and grow in the region.
"This is a hidden gem that is getting ready to mature because the shadow of St. Louis' air service is diminished," Jackson said.