State Approves Funding for Six Airport Projects, Ashe County Airport On The List

RALEIGH – Improvements at six North Carolina airports are moving forward after the N.C. Board of Transportation decided during its January meeting to approve state and federal funds for the upgrades.

Almost $5.7 million in funding will be used to provide improvements such as better stormwater planning, safer open areas around runways and more attractive sites for businesses and their aircraft.

Ashe County Airport, for example, will get a new waterline and pumping system that will enable much more water to reach the airfield in case of a fire or other emergency. Ashe County Airport faces unusual challenges because it sits more than 3,100 feet above sea level, making it the public airport at the highest elevation.

“The water at the airport is provided by a well that would not have sufficient water volume or pressure for the fire department to battle a fire at the airport,” said Airport Manager Eric Payne. “The installation of the waterline would provide the volume and pressure for a fire hydrant which would give the firefighters a better chance of controlling a bad situation when or if it ever arises.”

The projects the N.C. Board of Transportation approved are:

$675,000 to install a waterline to meet tenant and firefighter needs at the Ashe County Airport;
$148,500 for runway protection zone land acquisition services at Dare County Regional Airport;
$3,872,000 in additional funding to develop a site capable of hosting a fixed-base operator and maintenance facility at Johnston Regional Airport;
$100,000 for runway protection zone land acquisition services at Mid-Carolina Regional Airport in Salisbury;
$162,000 in additional funding to develop a stormwater master plan at Lumberton Regional Airport; and
$692,439 in additional funding to prepare the site, as well as build an apron and connecting taxiway, for an expansion of the corporate area at Wayne Executive Jetport.

Funds awarded to Johnston Regional and Wayne Executive are from a new fund designed to exclusively support economic development projects at airports across the state.

North Carolina airports serve as a vital economic engine connecting people and business enterprises with the world and are among the primary economic drivers in their communities. Airports and aviation-related industries contribute more than $52 billion to North Carolina’s economy each year, according to a 2019 report. They support 307,000 jobs, and generate more than $2.2 billion in tax revenue and more than $12.6 billion in personal income. The Division of Aviation is responsible for airport and aviation system planning and development, and provides funding to local communities for constructing and improving airports statewide.

The funds awarded do not necessarily represent the total cost of the project.