Federal money could help airport extend runway

Monday, July 16, 2007 | 2:47 p.m. CDT; updated 9:57 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Columbia Regional Airport is a step closer to getting a longer runway as a result of a federal bill.

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., has secured $2.7 million in a federal spending bill for an extension of the airport’s main runway to accommodate future air cargo needs and larger aircraft.

Bond’s press secretary Charles Chamberlayne said the senator feels that improving transportation is “vital” to Mid-Missouri’s economy.

“Missouri products and goods are sent all over the world,” Chamberlayne said. “The airport is vital to that.”

The airport’s main runway is currently 6,500 feet and would be lengthened as determined by the 2008 airport master plan update to accommodate larger planes.

Commercial carrier Allegiant Air, which has expressed interest in bringing air service to the airport, would require a longer runway to accommodate its planes. Cargo carrier DHL already flies into Columbia Regional, but would need a longer runway to accommodate its updated fleet.

Chamberlayne said Bond is passionate about sending federal money to Missouri to fund local priorities.

“Sen. Bond wants to make sure the needs of airports in Missouri are met,” he said.

The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and now must be passed by the full Senate and the House of Representatives.

Airport Manager Kathy Frerking said she is pleased the airport could receive the money.

“We are thrilled to have the money for airport improvements,” Frerking said.

Frerking said the runway improvements will occur after the 2008 airport master plan is completed and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Frerking said she is not sure how much additional costs will be required for the project if the $2.7 million is incorporated. She said the master plan process will reveal the cost estimates in detail.

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